Rustavi 2 Head Urges New Owner to Sell Shares to TV Staff

Nika Gvaramia, director general of Rustavi 2 TV, urged Kibar Khalvashi, whose ownership rights the Supreme Court reinstated yesterday, to hand the TV station shares over to its staff.

“We are offering a solution to this deadlock,” Gvaramia said at his special briefing overnight on March 3 in response to Kibar Khalvashi’s remarks, who said in a telephone interview with TV Pirveli that he does not need the television and that it “is a material property and a means of compensating for damages.”

“I am a businessman, who is doing business to increase my wealth. I do not need the television for protecting my partisan interests or for increasing my wealth… I am not a person, who needs the television very much,” Khalvashi said adding that at this moment he has no plans for selling the TV company. “But I cannot promise that I will be the owner of Rustavi 2 TV for my whole life,” he added.

In response to these remarks, Nika Gvaramia, standing in front of a group of 10 Rustavi 2 anchors and managers, offered Kibar Khalvashi to sell the TV station shares to its staff.

“It has been officially declared [by Khalvashi] that maintaining Rustavi 2‘s editorial policy is important. Since Kibar Khalvashi said that Rustavi 2 TV is a business issue for him and since he plans to sell it, we would like to propose the following: these are people standing behind me, whose shoulders the TV company stands on today. So, sell Rustavi 2 to its staff,” Gvaramia said.

According to Gvaramia, Khalvashi has claimed that years ago he paid “over GEL 7 million” for the TV company. “We calculated and it is about USD 4 209 397 according to the rate from that period. He has already received some amount and we are ready to pay the remaining USD 3 944 397,” he said.

“So, if he really wants to sell the television, to maintain its editorial independence, we call on Kibar Khalvashi and his master, the Georgian government, to transfer the TV channel to these people and we will fulfill your commercial interests,” Gvaramia added.

On March 3, Imedi TV broadcasted a brief interview with Kibar Khalvashi, who said nothing on Gvaramia’s proposal, but denied reports that he plans to sell the TV company.

“I only said that I cannot promise that I will be the owner of Rustavi 2 for my whole life,” he said adding that he should first assess how profitable this business will be and “if there is a person, who will do this job better, I will sell it … It is a usual business.”

In response to Gvaramia’s remarks that they would not leave the TV company, Khalvashi noted: “we will probably enter [the television] in the near future but it will not happen through use of force.” He also added that Rustavi 2 will no longer be “the television of one party” and it will be “the television of entire Georgia” and “it will be critical.”

Speaking on possible staff changes in the television, Khalvashi said that “all those, who want to quit, can quit and those who want to stay, can stay.”

“If we want to be a successful and a commercially viable organization, the channel needs high ratings and ratings need professionals,” Khalvashi added.