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PIC of frustrated hopes2011-10-13 14:24
First Information Caucasian channel is watched by 3% of the population of Georgia, as a poll of the US National Democratic Institute demonstrates. Meanwhile, annual financial support of the channel from the state budget is USD 10 mln. Russian-speaking Georgians and Russophobes from Russia present their vision of current events in Northern Caucasus making Georgia's taxpayers wonder why they have to pay for "enlightenment" of the population in neighboring states.
The National Democratic Institute (USA) often investigates the state of Georgia's society. Though the opposition usually criticizes its conclusions calling them orders from the authorities, sometimes polls provide information that looks like truth. For instance, the NDI found out that over 50% of Georgians want to be friends with Russia.
A new survey of the US institute shows that Georgians almost ignore newspapers but are active TV viewers with privately owned but irrevocably pro-governmental Imedi and Rustavi-2 channels topping the list of popularity. 69% of the population watch Channel 9 (Poti), 64% - TV25 (Batumi), 55% - Georgia Public Broadcaster. Two pro-opposition channels - Kavkasia and Maestro - are watched by 36% and 34% of the respondents accordingly. As for PIC that has been devouring millions of dollars from the Georgian budget, only 3% of the respondents watch it in Georgia.
Strictly speaking, PIC was initially meant for foreign viewers. That is why it broadcasts in the Russian language that gradually becomes extinct in today's Georgia. Basically, this is the reason for such a low popularity rate: 3% of the audience for this costly state channel. In legal terms, state support for mass media is prohibited in the country. Yet, PIC is the third channel of Georgia Public Broadcaster depending on public money coming from the state budget. Thus, the channel directly depends on the government despite formal private management by Key 1 Ltd taken up last year.
Last year the financial package for the channel was USD 7.5 mln. This year nearly USD 11 mln will be spent. For a USD 7 bln budget of Georgia this is serious money that could be spent on pension increases, construction of homes for refugees of the first wave, free textbooks for school goers and free education for more college students. Georgia has a lot of people in need: splendor of central streets neighbors on poverty of old lanes, and one satisfied policeman can be set against a dozen of hungry workers or the same number of unemployed persons.
However, 21st century is the century of media wars.