Georgia mulling Caucasus broadcasting

The Georgian Public Broadcaster is considering launching a Russian-language third channel targeting audiences in the Caucasus region, Gia Chanturia, broadcaster’s general director, said. “We are now working on the idea and [the new channel’s] format is not yet decided, so I can not speak about concrete details yet,” Chanturia said in an interview with the Georgian daily, Rezonansi, published on 1 November.

He also said that it was not yet possible to say when the new channel would be launched; Chanturia, however, said that “pilot programs” were planned on the first stage.

Zurab Dvali, producer of the yet-to-be-launched new channel, told Civil.Ge on 2 November that the funding will come from the state budget. He declined to discuss further details.

According to the draft 2010 state budget submitted to the parliament by the government, the funding of the public broadcaster is envisaged by GEL 25 million (US$14.88 million) – the same as it was in 2009. It is not yet clear whether the budget funding will increase for the broadcaster in the course of 2010 if the new channel is launched, or the new channel will use funds from those already planned GEL 25 million.

Meanwhile speculation has already started to embrace the funding issue, with some rumours saying that exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky is a possible sponsor and that the issue was discussed with the Georgian authorities when he allegedly visited Tbilisi in September. Zurab Dvali said this speculation was totally groundless.

The Georgian Public Broadcaster currently operates two TV channels and two radio stations.