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A battle for the First Caucasian Channel2010-05-18 09:28
Tbilisi is going to confirm its right of influence in the North-Caucasian region in the Court of Paris. The Georgian authorities have launched the First Caucasian Channel in Russian so as to present their own vision of freedom and democracy in this unquiet region. This PR-move has so far brought no expected dividends to the authorities. The First Caucasian Channel was broadcasted for two weeks only. At the end of January, Eutelsat French satellite channel ceased airing this odious Georgian channel via the W7 satellite. Without trying to conceal its indignation, Georgia accused Russia of pressing upon the French operator and is currently asserting the right for a PR-war in the court.
Today, Commercial Court of Paris will continue the hearing of the case of the Fist Caucasian Channel against Eutelsat. Meanwhile, the Georgian media are again panicking because of Russia's possible attack.
On March 22, the Court of Paris started considering the lawsuit filed by the Public Broadcaster of Georgia (PBG), on which basis the First Caucasian Channel is operating, against the Eutelsat French satellite company. Today, the regular hearings were started in the Court of Paris. It is expected that the decision on the case will be taken at the end of May or beginning of June. PBG's lawsuit against Eutelsat was immediately considered at the beginning of February; however, the essential decision was to be taken by another judge.
According to the Georgian media, the Georgian party will be represented by Deputy General Director of PBG Maya Bichikashvili at today's hearings. The representatives of the official Tbilisi say they still hope that the Court of Paris will acknowledge the unethical and unacceptable actions on the part of the Eutelsat French Company. As Kavkaz-Uzel was told by Head of the PBG Board of Trustees Levan Gakheladze, "so far the process is at the stage of hearings and it is difficult to forecast the outcome, or in whose favor it will end".
Tbilisi is convinced that the French operator acted in respect of the First Caucasian Channel under Russia's pressure. One of the Georgian media even published the information under the title of: "Eutelsat caved in to the Kremlin". Now the Public Television of Georgia demands the resumption of the broadcasting of the First Caucasian Channel and a fine of several million euros. At the same time, the Eutelsat French Company asserts that it suspended the airing of the First Caucasian Channel because the test broadcasting term is over and a new contract with PBG has not been signed. Eutelsat offered another frequency to the Georgian channel, which was considered by PBG to be unacceptable so long as the new frequency did not allow covering the Russian-speaking audience of CIS and East Europe.