Fifteen leading Georgian rights and media watchdogs have slammed the complaint of two members of the advisory board of Adjara TV and Radio Company, requesting impeachment of Natia Kapanadze, head of the broadcaster.
In a statement released on April 12, CSOs said they are assessing the impeachment request “extremely negatively.”
“Adjara TV and Radio Company under Natia Kapanadze’s leadership has been recognized by many prominent international and local organizations as a free, unbiased and progressing institution in an otherwise polarized and politicized environment,” reads their statement.
The organizations said they will be watching the processes closely, and expressed hope that the advisory board “will approach the issue in good sense and will protect the channel’s editorial independence.”
The five-member advisory board is to discuss the issue within 10 days. Three votes are needed for the decision.
A complaint requesting Kapanadze’s impeachment was lodged with the board of advisors on April 10, by two board members – Giga Chkhartishvili and Irakli Dartsmelidze. The two are pointing at Kapanadze’s “disrespect of” and “miscommunication with” the advisory board, as well as at financial mismanagement in the company.
Adjara TV and Radio Company responded to the allegations on April 12, saying the Company “has demonstrated in the last few years that it is offering objective and impartial information” to its viewers, and that it “has managed to establish itself as a broadcaster that is free from political and commercial influences.”
“The ongoing processes come into contradiction with editorial independence of Adjara TV and Radio Company, and the idea of public broadcasting,” the statement also reads.
Chair of the Supreme Council of Adjara, Davit Gabaidze, ruled out the authorities’ interference in the work of the broadcaster. “These processes cannot be in the interest of the authorities since the director is to resign in six months’ time anyways, so why would we want to create problems,” he said.
Assessments differ in the opposition. Regional representatives of five opposition parties, including the United National Movement and the European Georgia convened a special press briefing on the issue, accusing the authorities of wanting to take control of “a balanced” broadcaster.
“We call on the Advisory Board of Adjara TV and Radio Company not to fulfill the government’s orders and not to allow the government’s interference in the broadcaster’s work,” the parties said in a joint statement, calling on the civil society organizations to monitor the developments closely.