Who are the owners of Georgia’s TV stations? What business and political interests do they have? Do they have connections with influential politicians and business groups?
These questions are still actual in Georgia, where access to objective information is crucial. As such, I have put together a quick guide as to who owns what on the Georgian TV news and politics market.
Imedi Holding unites three TV stations: Imedi TV, Maestro and GDS. All three are broadly pro-government in their coverage.
The official management of Imedi TV is its board, whose chairman is Irakli Rukhadze, a businessman who has a good connections with the government. The deputy chairman is Ina Gudavadze, the widow of Badri Patarkatsishvili (the businessman who established Imedi TV but who died in 2008).
Irakli Rukhadze has divergent business interests. Besides TV, he is head of the supervisory board of Liberty Bank and has officially stated that he wants to buy Cartu Bank, which currently belongs to Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia’s richest person.
It was reported earlier this year that a company called Honeywell Partners, which also belongs to Irakli Rukhadze, wanted to buy Imedi TV. The deal did not happen.
Maestro TV is owned by Giorgi Gachechiladze, who holds 75 per cent of the company, while the remaining 25 per cent belongs to Ina Gudavadze.
GDS is the third TV station of in Imedi Holding. It is entirely 100 owned by Ina Gudavadze. Before that, the owner was one of the sons of Bidzina Ivanishvili – Bera Ivanishvili.
Rustavi 2 has a strong connection with the United National Movement party, which is visible in its coverage. The decisive word in the company’s management belongs to dual Russian and Georgian national Nikoloz Nakophia, son of Koba Nakophia, an MP and member of United National Movement. It is worth mentioning that Nakophia has businesses in tourism, while his father, the MP, had a business interest in gold and natural fossil fuel companies. The company’s most significant shareholders however are brothers, Levan and Giorgi Karamanishvili, friends of Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia. The vast majority of their businesses are outside of the country. Within Georgia their major interest – besides TV – is as an internet service provider.
The owner of Iberia TV is tobacco magnet Zaza Okuashvili although according to official documents, the TV station actually belongs to his son’s company. Okuashvili’s main business is producing and importing tobacco. He is the founder of Omega Group in Georgia and is a member of the Supreme Council of Adjara for the Alliance of Patriots. His wife, Nato Chkheidze, is an MP for the same political party. The channel is often critical of the government.
PalitraNEWS is a part of PalitraMedia. The owners are Irakli Tevdorashvili and Zaza Buadze. The main activity of the holding is the media business. Besides TV the company operates major Georgian news agencies and web-portals.
TV Pirveli belongs to businessman Avto Tsereteli. However, official documents show that 100 per cent of the TV station belongs to his son, Vakhtang Tsereteli. The family has several businesses, among them the most important is in the tobacco industry. Broadly independent coverage.
TV Caucasia belongs to journalist Nino Jangirashvili. Her main business activity is media. The company does not have a significant budget and is not biased.
The media company Obiectv is related to MP Irma Inashvili, the leader of the Alliance of Patriots. However, official documents show that the manager of the TV station is a board, under the guidance of Irakli Tsilikishvili. The station has a very nationalist approach. It often spreads hate speech, xenophobia and homophobia.
The views expressed in this opinion editorial are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Emerging Europe’s editorial policy.