Georgia relaunches Russian-language TV

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Georgia on Tuesday is to relaunch a Russian-language satellite television station aimed at countering Moscow's media influence in the former Soviet Union.

The state-funded station Kanal PIK (Perviy Informatsionniy Kavkazsky, or First Caucasus News), returns to the air amid Georgia's continuing political dispute with Russia which erupted into a brief war between the ex-Soviet neighbours in 2008.

It is intended to be a competitor to Moscow-based channels that broadcast what the Georgian authorities believe is biased information about the volatile Caucasus region.

The station's director-general Robert Parsons said that the authorities had given assurances that they would not try to use it as a mouthpiece for government propaganda.

"We've had a promise that there will be no political interference," said Parsons, a British journalist hired by the Georgian public broadcasting authorities to oversee the relaunch.

The station first began transmissions a year ago under the name Perviy Kavkazsky (First Caucasian) but broadcasts were suspended within days after Paris-based satellite operator Eutelsat pulled it off air when its trial period ended.

Georgia blamed pressure from Moscow on Eutelsat, which also relays Russian TV channels, but the company denied this and a French court ruled in July that it had not violated its contract.

Kanal PIK is scheduled to start broadcasting at 6:00 pm (1400 GMT).

© 2011 AFP

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