26 January 2021,   06:34
Journalists of Rustavi 2 respond to Kibar Khalvashi

Journalists of the Broadcasting company " Rustavi 2" release a joint statement. The employees of the broadcasting company explain those criteria, violation of which may be perceived as interference in the editorial policy of the channel.

The issue of protection and maintenance of the editorial policy of the channel became especially relevant after the change of Rustavi 2 owners and Director -General, because we believe that one of the most powerful platforms of media pluralism, of a different opinion, which has a critical approach regarding government, is under a serious threat.

A statement of Kibar Khalvashi, the new owner of the broadcasting company does not leave an illusion that the free speech and editorial independence of the pro-Western oriented channel will be questioned. Therefore, journalists of the broadcasting company address all the authoritative international and local organizations, the embassies accredited in Georgia, which are the guarantees of democratic development in the country, to stay focused and to support Rustavi 2" to maintain its editorial independence. In order not to leave the space for interpretation, we will extend the criteria that we consider as an interference in the editorial policy of the channel.

1. Dismissal of journalists, channel presenters, the acting head of the News Department and producers, change of their positions or replacement with new staff is another tool for change of the editorial policy. The Experience shows that this scheme is often used in the Georgian media environment, closing the existing programs or changing the format.

2. The violation of a labour contract for persons listed in the first paragraph will be considered as one of the instruments of interference in editorial policy.

3. Censorship of guests, determination of the sequence of stories and any other kind of interference that affects the content and accents of the program.

4. Creation of financial problems - If the channel was able to work properly in the hardest conditions of the seizure, it was able not only to pay salaries but also create new top-rated media products, lifting the seizure should only promote income growth and not vice versa. Therefore, violation of financial liabilities taken under contracts of the employees will be considered as one of the forms of pressure and leverage to interfere in Rustavi 2"s editorial independence.

5. Employment of a foreign media manager can not be considered as a guarantee of editorial independence. Bot- Georgian or foreigner may become a media censor.
We have witnessed similar cases in other TV companies, where foreign media managers failed to be a guarantee for change of the editorial policy.

In addition, everyone remembers how after the seizure of "Gazprom Media", "NTV" by Putin the citizen of the Unites States - Jordan was appointed as a Director-General of the TV company in 2001.
We remember well how this story ended. We also see foreign journalists on the Kremlin propaganda channel "Russia Today" who spread pro-Russian narratives."