The Georgian government will establish a new Russian-language TV channel, Pervyi Kavkazskiy Kanal (First Caucasian Channel), which will begin broadcasting throughout the Caucasus region on 1 January 2010. The channel will operate under the auspices of the state-owned Georgian Public Broadcasting. Critics say the channel would have an “anti-Russian” bias.
Oleg Panfilov, director of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, is reported to become the new channel’s director. Earlier, Georgia named Panfilov as its candidate to the post of OSCE representative for media freedom. Alla Dudayeva, widow of first Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev, has also been mentioned in connection with the plan to open the new channel.
Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has begun transmitting special programmes to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, now under Russian occupation. The daily one-hour programmes in Russian began on 2 November 2009. David Kakabadze, director of RFE/RL’s Georgian service, said the programmes will strive to fill an information void. South Ossetia has announced that it will jam the new channel.