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BBC standard against Georgian propaganda22.07.2010 | 18:49
Georgia's information weapon called First Caucasian Channel was reformed after being unsuccessfully tested on Eutelsat French satellite. Now the channel is going to be a private one led by Robert Parsons, a British journalist who has worked for BBC. Does it mean the seeds of independent journalism will come up in the propagandistic field?
The First Caucasian TV channel with its ambition to get the "Georgian truth" over to the people in the North Caucasus half a year ago seemed to hurt Russian media experts to the quick: along with the Georgian events that were to be presented from the "right" angle, Tbilisi assumed responsibility for covering the life of the Russian Caucasian nations.
The Chechen tragedy wounds are still bleeding, which is felt not only by the people of the republic who suffered in the counter-terrorist operation but by the families of those Russian soldiers who gave their lives for peace in the Caucasus. Other North-Caucasian republics are also facing terrorism that is actively sponsored from outside; it is called Muslim Wahhabism and has nothing in common with true spirituality.
And now Georgia, having set up a seemingly noble goal of diversifying the information space in the region started rubbing into these wounds such salty statements as "fighter for independence", "soldier of resistance" related to the bandits. The air was also given to the widow of the first president of the failed Ichkeria Johar Dudayev who killed and expelled Russian population from Chechnya with impunity and arranged first terrorist acts in the Caucasus in the 90s. Finally, TV channel supports such ideas as prohibiting the Olympic Games in Sochi, "games on the bones of the Circassians and the Adygeis" who were conquered by Russia in the 19 century and who are now planting in the minds of the law-abiding Russians the idea of creating an independent Great Cirkassia from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea.
Such information policy is nothing but separatism supporting. Though, the channel also broadcasted depoliticized programs, such as reports on Georgia's places of interest, tales of Caucasian peoples and national children groups' performances. However, this was rather a mask for the informational warhead.
The TV channel was on air for a very short time. In a couple of weeks of broadcasting via Eutelsat satellite, it had to return to the Internet space. The French company management denied broadcasting to Georgians, having referred to the test broadcasting time expiration and conclusion of a new profitable contract. As it turned out, the satellite was acquired by a Russian company, which gave way to the rumors about "Moscow reaching for Paris".
One of these days, the French court confirmed the legality of the Eutelsat contract signed with the Georgian Public Television, on which basis the First Caucasian channel was operating. The complete court failure resulted in the current reformation of the channel.
The channel was placed in management of Kay 1 LLC private company that will get 4,7 mln laris from the government's reserve fund; the money had been allocated by Georgian budget before reorganization. The company was founded by Robert Parsons, a British journalist. He knows the Russian language and Russia very well, having worked here as a BBC correspondent for almost ten years, and he knows Georgia even better. His wife Nino Kirtadze lives in France and shoots films; among them are films about her motherland. When Parsons worked as the Georgian service editor for Radio Freedom he was rumored to possess a vineyard in Kakhetia and even produce Saperavi and Rkatsiteli wines.
Telling the West about Chechnya, Parsons inevitably took the side of the suffering peaceful citizens behind whose backs the terrorists were hiding. During the August 2008 events, the British came out for Mikhail Saakashvili. He was sure that the war in South Ossetia had been provoked by South-Ossetian and Russian firing and his views have hardly changed since the European commission's report on the war reasons.
Parsons set up the basic task for the First Caucasian Channel to make the coverage more objective so that the channel "would by no means be characterized as propagandistic" and could criticize the Georgian government. The British journalist is planning to set up a standard of high-quality journalism in Georgia. Broadcasting will be provided by another satellite company, which name so far remains undisclosed.
Russian experts positively assess the changes on the First Caucasian channel if the final purpose is to create a truly independent means of mass media. However, there are enough grounds for doubts.
TV critic Yuri Bogomolov believes that the transference into private hands may be characterized as an attempt to create a more objective and less engaged channel. Still, he finds it difficult to answer whether it is possible if the channel office gets funds for development from the Georgian government: "When the USSR was going to collapse television still belonged to the state but the state was the object of its total criticism. That is possible only either in a pre-revolutionary, or in a post-revolutionary situation.
I believe in this case the situation is different. It will evidently be a compromise decision".