The head of the Georgian TV channel, which created nationwide panic by a bogus TV news report of a Russian invasion, denied that the country's top officials were informed about the program beforehand.
The Imedi TV channel sparked panic in Georgia on Saturday with a broadcast that said Russian tanks had invaded the capital and the country's president was dead.
The broadcast by Imedi TV, which used the channel's normal news graphics, began on Saturday with a warning that the program showed a sequence of possible events that could occur "if Georgian society is not brought together against Russia's plans." Those viewers who missed the program's introduction took what was shown for real, thinking a new Russia-Georgia war erupted.
On Monday some Georgian media made public a record of a phone conversation, in which a person whose voice is similar to Imedi head Georgy Arveladze, talks with a woman, who seems to be the TV host of the disputed program, Eka Tsamalashvili.
"[The Georgian law] says that we might lose our [broadcasting] license for creating groundless panic in the society... You should take notice of it. You'd rather write everywhere that this is a fictitious report... Otherwise, we might face the consequences," the woman on the record says.
The man answers that he informed "Misha" (apparently the country's president, Mikheil Saakashvili) about the program the day before and the latter advised him against a warning, saying that the program will otherwise "lose its zest."
Georgy Arveladze said no such talk ever took place, saying that the record was a compilation of several recorded conversations.
"All phrases were taken from various dialogs. It is easy to compile my conversation with whoever and on whatever subject that way," Arveladze was broadcasted as saying by the Maestro TV channel.
He also dismissed allegations that Saakashvili was informed about the broadcast beforehand and said that "no state officials took part in preparing the program."
"We consulted only with some political experts. Experts could only see the script, not the program itself. Of course, the broadcast was based on the script," Arveladze said.
He said earlier on Monday that the special report was a warning against possible danger.
"Our objective was not to scare society but to show the dangers facing our country," he said.
He added that he assumed full responsibility for the report and apologized for its negative consequences.
Georgia's National Media Commission ordered Imedi to apologize to the public for the report and examine complaints from all "victims" – people who had reportedly suffered heart attacks and experienced other health problems over the report.
TBILISI, March 16 (RIA Novosti)