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Imedi Media Holding

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Imedi TV
TypeBroadcast radio network and
television network
Country Georgia
AvailabilityNational
OwnerNews Corporation
Official Websitewww.imedi.ge

Imedi Media Holding is a private television and Radio Company in Georgia. The stations were formerly owned in part by the late Georgian media tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

thumb|right|400px|[http://imedinews.ge/ IMEDINEWS - Imedi News

Contents

History

Radio Imedi first aired on 105.9 FM in December 2001 in Tbilisi. Since December 2003 "Radio Imedi" has broadcast 24 hours a day across all the settled territory in Georgia. The station mainly concentrates on news and analytical coverage but broadcasts pop music as well, particularly at night-time.

During the Sandro Girgvliani murder investigation, Patarkatsishvili stated that the Georgian authorities were mounting pressure on his station and other businesses after it had broadcast details of the scandal. "It is no secret that Imedi television was the first one which reported the circumstances of Sandro Girgvliani’s murder...this alone became a reason for the authorities’ dissatisfaction, which triggered the financial authorities to actively launch a probe into my businesses and my companies so [as] to force me to mount pressure against [my] journalists..and facilitate the creation of a favorable image of the authorities," Badri Patarkatsishvili went on to say that he would never yield to pressure from the authorities.

This pressure has been assumed by some as a reason behind Imedi Media Holdings decision to sell shares to News Corp. Some have speculated that with Rupert Murdoch involved with the station, the current government will find it harder to exert pressure on Imedi without generating publicity in the West.

The station carried statements by opposition leaders and broadcast footage of police breaking up protests during the 2007 November Georgian demonstrations and went off air after riot police burst into their offices on November 7, 2007.[1]

The Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) has suspended Imedi TV's broadcast license for a three month period citing violation of law on broadcasting by the television station. The GNCC says in its decision that on November 7, Imedi TV reported "an obvious disinformation that law enforcement officers were planning to storm cathedral of Holy Trinity... This report has created an imminent and real threat of overgrowing riots into large scale massive unrests, which could eventually led to uncontrollable processes." Georgian officials have further accused Patarkatsishvili of controlling the Imedi TV’s editorial policy and using it for inciting unrests. As a proof for their allegations, Georgia's General Prosecutor's Office released, on November 16, 2007, several taped phone conversations between Patarkatsishvili and Giorgi Targamadze, chief of Imedi TV’s political programs, and also between a producer and a journalist of Imedi TV. Meanwhile, Rustavi 2, regarded as the mouthpiece of the Saakashvili government,[2] TV aired on 16 November a half an hour documentary about Imedi TV's role in the anti-governmental demonstrations, which is based exclusively on an interview of deputy chief prosecutor, Nika Gvaramia.[3]

Tbilisi City Court ruled on December 6, 2007 to unfreeze Imedi's assets – the last remaining legal obstacle for the television station to get back on air. A criminal case against its co-owner, Badri Patarkatsishvili, is still pending, however.[4] Yet, the company's management stated that the studio equipment was badly damaged in a November 7 police raid.[5] Later on December 12, 2007, Imedi TV resumed broadcasts thirty four days after the television station was shut down.[6]

On December 26, 2007, several leading journalists from Imedi TV left their jobs following the release of video and audio recordings by the authorities suggesting that Badri Patarkatsishvili, the station's founder and co-owner, was plotting a coup. Later that day, the television station’s management announced that Imedi TV temporarily suspended broadcasts until the station's "legal status in respect of ownership is not clarified." "By doing so we are distancing from dirty political games", said Giorgi Targamadze, head of the Imedi TV's political programs.[7]

Badri Afanasyev, a former Imedi producer, asked political asylum in Russia on october 17, 2009. [8]

Ownership issue

A preliminary agreement on the purchase of Imedi Holding’s shares was signed in New York on April 28, 2007, details of which remained confidential. It is currently owned by I-Media, which has given power of attorney over 100% of its Imedi shares to News Corp. Europe. The television station’s board chairman is Badri Patarkatsishvili. Patarkatsishvili also owned shares in RTVi, an international Russian-language television network.[9]

After Patarkatsishvili's death in February 2008, the issue of ownership of the Imedia Media Holding again came to a public attention. Joseph Kay, alias Joseph Kakalashvili, a stepson of Patarkatsishvili’s aunt announced that he had bought Imedi TV from Gogi Jaoshvili, reportedly a close friend of Patarkatsishvili, who owned 70% of JMG, a company with a 65% stake in I-Media, which is the founder and 100% owner of Imedi TV. According to papers submitted to the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) by Imedi TV in December 2007, the remaining 35% of the I-Media shares are owned by Universal, a firm founded by three relatives of Patarkatsishvili. Kay claimed that Patarkatsishvili had asked him shortly before his death "to take care of Imedi" and pledged to "restore the face it [Imedi] had before Badri Patarkatsishvili went into politics." He also rejected the allegations voiced by some Georgian opposition politicians that the authorities were in fact behind the deal.[10]

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