May 2, 2018

Case - David Makharashvili Vs. Levan Kenchoshvili

Head of Council: Giorgi Mgeladze

Member of Council: Lika Zakashvili, Nino Japiashvili, Giorgi Suladze, Maia Mamulashvili, Tea Zibzibadze, Gela Mtivlishvili

Applicant: Davit Makharashvili

Respondent: Levan Kenchoshvili

Description part: 

Davit Makharashvili applied to the Georgian Charter of the Journalistic Ethics council. He thought that the shot “Stop Khami” of POSTV, which was aired on 26th of March, 2018 and was shot in Gori, violated the 1st, 3rd (falsification), 4th, 7th, and 11th (intentional distortion of facts) principles. Respondent was determined to be the host of the show, Levan Kenchoshvili. Representative of the respondent, Levan Kvaratskhelia, attended the hearing. Applicant answered council’s questions via internet.

Motivation Part 

1st principle of the Charter – “Journalist must respect truth and the society’s right to get precise information”. 3rd principle “Journalist should only share information based on the facts’ of which the source is checked. Journalist should not hide important facts, should not falsify documents and information”. 11th principle – “Journalist should consider the following actions a grave professional crime: intentional distortion of facts.

Respondent said that the application should not have been accepted or taken to hearing, because the show “STOP Khami” is made in the field of “POSTV Entertainment” and should not be considered a journalistic product, because it’s an entertainment show. Charter council did not support respondent’s position and argued that “Stop Khami” is a show, where people [host, operators] go in the streets and find citizens who presumably violate parking rules according to the normative acts. This violation is a crime. More than that, incorrect parking [parking on spots for disabled people, in the walking territory] can be considered antisocial. According to this, the show declares that it shows potential criminals, shows problems of parking. Nowhere in the show is it sad that the crime does not correspond to the reality. Therefore, the contents of the show are based not on the entertainment part, but showing the audience, what is going on in the streets.

As was mentioned, the issue was about “Stop Khami” show scene shot in Gori. Specifically, the episode was the following: recording team gets near the BMW car, which is stopped on the pedestrian crossing, which is a violation. A person sits next to the driver’s seat in the car. The team asks him to park the car somewhere else. The person answers with swearing and cursing. He says that he is “from Gori” and they should not “make mistakes”. The audience has an impression, that this is the real situation, that this person from Gori is aggressive, impolite and violating the rules. Applicant said that this episode was staged.

On the first stage, Council got the following information:

  1. A person sitting in the BMW car is Badri, who controls parking in the center of Gori.
  2. Three different videos were shared, where Badri says that the episode was staged and the show team asked him to participate in the show.
  3. In one of the videos, Badri mentions a person named “Temuka” who was the medium between Badri and the show team.
  4. Council found out that Badri is talking about Temur Ugrekhelidze.
  5. Council called Temur Ugrekhelidze, who said that he does not work in POSTV and did not participate in the preparation of “Stop Khami” episode in question.
  6. Council also found out that: 1. Temur Ugrekhelidze’s profile in social network shows that he works in POSTV and he regularly shares POSTV videos. 2. He has pictures taken in an informal setting with POSTV employees. Photos like this make an impression that he has connection with POSTV and takes part in its work.
  7. During the hearing, Levan Kvaratskhelia, the POSTV representative was asked if he knew Temur Ugrekhelidze. At first he declined, but afterwards said that maybe he knew him. Council has photos of Levan Kvaratskhelia and Temur Ugrekhelidze together, which also show, that Temur Ugrekhelidze attended POSTV shootings.

During the hearing, council decided that to get the information was not enough to get the decision on the case and it was necessary to get details from the person actually participating in the scene. Council head and the secretary, together with the council member Saba Tsitsikashvili went to Gori and interviewed Badri and his cousin, Shalva Nalikashvili. They said that Shalva Nalikashvili [who also works in parking regulation in Gori] was contacted by Temur Ugrekhelidze and asked him to find Badri. Badri had health problems [his leg hurts and he uses a walking stick even in the issue of the show] and was at home. Temur Ugrekhelidze found him with the help of Shalva Nalikashvili and asked him to participate in the episode. Badri agreed and they tried to shoot the scene in one of the regions of Gori, but could not find the according pedestrian crossing, after which they went to the city center and staged a scene there. Badri and Shalva were interviewed separately and their stories coincided. Both of them recognized Temur Ugrekhelidze from group photos. According to the information above, it is clear that the episode was staged, was not real and it led audience to the mistaken impression that the passenger in the BMW car [Badri] episode was real. Therefore, principles 1 (sharing incorrect information), 3 (sharing falsified information) and 11 (intentional sharing of incorrect/falsified/misleading information) were violated.

The main idea of the show is to review the real situation and problems of parking and to ingrain social

responsibility in people violating the law. Therefore, using staged, exaggerated episodes is intentional misleading of the audience. According to the 4th principle of the Charter: “Journalist should use only fair and just methods while acquiring photos or documents”. Council thinks that the 4th principle was not violated. For this violation, the information needs to exist and a journalist needs to violate justness or fairness principles. In this case, there was no source of which the information was acquired. The “information” itself was falsified, incorrect; therefore, it was not acquired. This negates the violation of the 4th principle.

According to the 7th principle of the Charter: “Journalist should understand the danger of supporting discrimination; therefore he/she should use every possibility to avoid discriminating a person based on his/her race, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other views, national or social origin or any other reason”. As we mentioned above, the episode was staged. Badri was swearing and cursing the shooting team and underlined that he was from Gori. This made an impression that he was aggressive, rude and violated the rules. Host says in the end that he will not return to Gori, because of this aggression. The staged scene and host’s comment caused the support of discrimination. Video became a reason of hundreds of comments where people from Gori were discriminated. Media should disrupt discrimination, not support it directly. The show caused negative comments in social network, most of which were connected to Badri’s episode, where people from Gori are called rude and violators of the laws. It is clear, that the piece caused hate speech based on geographical living place. Therefore, 7th principle of the Charter was violated.

Resolution part:

Based on the information above:

1. Levan Kenchoshvili violated Charter principles 1, 3, 7, and 11.

2. Levan Kenchoshvili did not violate Charter principle 4.