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Acting president says suspended TV station can resume broadcasting

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders hailed the 3 December 2007 statement by acting president Nino Burjanadze that she plans to ask the judicial authorities to lift a month-old broadcast ban on the independent television channel Imedi TV. "The danger that was the cause of Imedi TV's closure no longer exists," she said.

"We welcome the imminent resumption of broadcasting by Imedi TV and we call on the government to do the utmost to ensure that its journalists are able to work freely as soon as possible," the press freedom organisation said.

Polish journalist Adam Michnik, who is acting as the European Union's mediator on press freedom issues in Georgia, said on 1 December that he expected Imedi TV to reopen "within a week." But as part of its editing and broadcast equipment was destroyed when the authorities closed it down on 7 November, it is hard to know when it will be able to resume operating.

The former Soviet republic's western allies have insisted that the station must resume broadcasting before the presidential election scheduled for 5 January 2008. Imedi TV said at one point that it did not think it would be able to reopen until the day of the election. Its licence was suspended by court order after the state of emergency was lifted on 16 November.

The Georgian government asked Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, a co-owner of Imedi TV, to take full control of the station on 28 November because it accuses the station's other owner, Georgian businessman and presidential hopeful Badri Patartkatsishvili, of plotting to stage a coup in Georgia.

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