Imedi TV off the air

News Corp. network has license suspended

Georgia has suspended the license and confiscated transmission equipment of Rupert Murdoch’s Imedi TV channel Wednesday.

Mikheil Saakashvili, president of the troubled Caucasus nation, declared a 15-day state of emergency in the country Nov. 7, putting all independent media off the air, with only state-owned broadcasters retaining access to transmission facilities. Rebroadcasts of Russian channels were also stopped.

Nino Burdzhanadze, speaker of the country’s parliament, said Wednesday that the state of emergency would be lifted early, effective Friday.

But a court order issued Wednesday looks likely to keep Imedi off the air for the foreseeable future — severely compromising the country’s alleged commitment to democracy in the broadcasting sphere.

Georgian authorities accused the station of being involved in Russian-backed protests in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, where people were dispersed with water cannon and tear gas Nov. 7.

Imedi had aired hospital footage of victims of the day’s violence. In previous days, it had also broadcast interviews with former defense minister Irakly Okruashvili, now in exile in Germany and a major opponent of Saakashvili.

Martin Pompadur, chairman of News Corp. Europe, denied that Imedi was “somehow involved” with Patarkatsishvili in Russia-backed street demonstrations. He added that the channel would appeal the decision through the Georgian courts.

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