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«Sun» follows in the steps of «Hope»2009-03-26 15:27
According to Georgian news agencies Mze (Sun) TV company has a new owner. David Bezhuashvili, a dominant party deputy, sold his stake to Bidzina Ivanishvili, a billionaire and an alleged sponsor of Nino Burdzhanadze. It is quite probable that Sun will repeat the fate of Imedi (Hope) channel whose studio was smashed up by Georgian riot police in November 2007.
The information on the deal between David Bezhuashvili and Bidzina Ivanishvili was published in Versia newspaper (Georgia) according to Kommersant radio. The journalists did not manage to get specific information directly from "the high and mighties" and referred to Mze colleagues. TV people hope "the complicated situation on TV could get better". The journalists believe Ivanishvili will also revive Channel 9 that was shut down following the Rose Revolution. It was not an openly opposition-oriented channel but as the media reported the authorities forced Ivanishvili to opt out of the media game.
Now the billionaire can get back to the field of agitation and propaganda. According to Georgian media "Irakli Tripolsky well remembered by the public after the scandal around Public TV channel, is appointed Director General of the channel". According to Versia Ivanishvili owns Channel 9 frequencies and license expiring in 2015.
Meanwhile the national control committee on communications categorically disproved the news about sale of Mze explaining that the bargainers had not addressed this authority for "transfer of frequencies". But firstly they can do it later. And secondly Channel 9's new director Tripolsky recently confirmed his appointment in person. He also remarked that the fate of this channel might be decided in the coming two months.
As for Mze its leaders closed all analytical and news programs last June. Now the TV format consists of soap operas, feature films, documentaries and cartoons. "Toothless" business programs and criminal reports are broadcast too.
David Bezhuashvili can justify his loyalty to the authorities. As a deputy from United National Movement dominant party he has a nonchalant living on his 600-million fortune. Bezhuashvili owns a number of big enterprises in Tbilisi and Rustavi. His media empire (he is Rustavi TV control shareholder) helps Mikheil Saakashvili remain the head of the state.
One good turn deserves another: power bodies were involved in acquisition of TV assets. At least last autumn Kibar Khalvashi, ex owner of Mze 78% stake and Rustavi-2 100% stake called on General Prosecutor to start an investigation of illegal seizure of both channels by the authorities.