The new pro-opposition television “Mtavari Arkhi” (Main Channel), founded by Nika Gvaramia, former director general of Rustavi 2 TV, went on the air on September 9 with a news program “Mtavari at 9.”
Diana Jojua and Paata Iakobashvili, former anchors of Rustavi 2 TV’s Kurieri news program, welcomed the audience of the new TV program.
“We are starting with a clean sheet,” Diana Jojua addressed the audience. “We have returned to create an independent television that will be free of censorship and government’s influence. We have returned with the same determination – the team, whom you trust and who has not given up even for a minute,” she said.
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“We rejected guaranteed and comfortable future at Bidzina Ivanishvili’s television, because we do not agree and will not tolerate Georgia’s return to the past. We do not agree and will not tolerate clannish rule, corruption, return of criminal values in the country. We will not keep silent or yield to occupation; neither will we live under the Kremlin’s will,” Paata Iakobashvili said.
Mtavari Arkhi launched broadcasting on the basis of Iberia TV owned by the Omega Group company, which was closed down last October. The new TV channel was granted general broadcast license on September 5. 51% of Mtavari Arkhi’s shares are owned by Nika Gvaramia and 49% – by Kakhaber Anjaparidze, one of the shareholders of Inter Media Plus LLC.
Nika Gvaramia announced his plans to found a new television shortly after he quit Rustavi 2 TV, when new owner of the TV channel, Kibar Khalvashi dismissed him on July 18 and appointed Paata Salia as the new director.
Key figures, including the head of newsroom, producer, hosts of political and entertainment talk shows were dismissed as part of staff changes carried out at Rustavi 2 TV. It prompted almost all members of the newsroom to quit the channel. A part of journalists who quit Rustavi 2 TV moved to Mtavari Arkhi.
On August 9, the Prosecutor’s Office charged Nika Gvaramia over abuse of power. The Prosecutor’s Office said that Rustavi 2 TV suffered a GEL 7.3 million loss in 2015 by reason of Nika Gvaramia, who “abused power and did not act honestly, within legal interests of the television.”
On August 10, Tbilisi City Court ruled that Nika Gvaramia had to post a GEL 40,000 bail and will not be able to leave the country without the prosecutor’s permission.
Initially, Gvaramia refused to post the bail, but later he changed his mind, citing the need to avoid additional problems to his new television.On September 6, the Prosecutor’s Office aggravated Gvaramia’s charges and accused him of intentionally inflicting damage to Rustavi 2 TV