Imedi TV back on air

Georgia network resumes broadcasting

Rupert Murdoch’s Imedi TV, based in Tbilisi, Georgia, has resumed broadcasting a month after government-backed police forced it off the air.

The station’s general manager, Lewis Robertson, and his staff of 120 young reporters and some 380 other employees returned to the station for the first time Friday. Only four staffers refused to return, including top female news anchor Inga Grigolia, who subsequently grilled Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili about Imedi’s closure on rival station Rustavi 2.

Now the station has to start again from scratch. The Georgian government has informally agreed to pay for the damage to the station, but that does not include some $3 million in lost advertising revenue.

Robertson thought that News Corp.’s role in Imedi — it holds a 49% stake but has power of attorney over owner Badri Patarkatsishvili’s majority stake while the Georgian runs for president — would keep it safe. He was wrong.

“I’ve not spoken to Rupert Murdoch,” Robertson said, “but he issued a statement two days after the assault that he was disgusted and very upset that a television station in a democratic country was put out of business because the government did not like the way it was broadcasting.”

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