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Public TV Changes Show Format to Allay Controversy
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 23 Jan.'09 / 11:05

Public TV said it would proceed further with a show, which triggered wave of controversy recently, but with a changed format in an attempt to allay the Georgian Orthodox Church’s complaints.

The TV show Great Ten, designed to find the greatest Georgians through polling, triggered the Church’s protest saying that it was not “justified” to put saints in rank order. Producers of the project said although all 13 saints, which were shortlisted in top 50, will remain in the list, ranking would be abolished as soon as list of top ten was identified.

“By the end of the project there will be top ten greatest Georgians and they will be listed alphabetically instead of numeration and ranking; there will be no first place, second place etc. By doing so we think we are avoiding this controversy related with ranking and on the other hand it would help us to maintain the main idea of the projected related with revealing the Georgian public’s opinion,” Dachi Grdzelishvili, Dachi Grdzelishvili, a co-anchor and chief producer of the show, said on January 21.

The Georgian Orthodox Church was against of the format wherein, as it put it in a statement, on January 19, “spiritual figures are contesting with secular figures.” And those disagreeing with the Church’s position argued that any change in format was unacceptable as it would amount to yielding to outside influence by the public broadcaster. Some commentators have already suggested that the public TV’s “compromise decision” would hardly satisfy either side.

Meanwhile, the Georgian Orthodox Church said in a statement released on January 22, that controversy stirred around the issue was “artificial.” It said that previously the Church also expressed its opinion over various TV projects, but not a single one had triggered such media hype and controversy.

It said that the recent case was suggesting that “someone wants to portray the Church as a censor, which is trying to restrict freedom of speech.”

“An impression is being created that those who are trying to pursue this policy are willing to create a situation, wherein the Church and the Patriarch will refrain in the future from making their opinions public… No one has the right to do so. That is the last word of the Patriarchate on the matter,” the statement reads.

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