Studio Monitor was established on December 14, 2005 by its founders; Nino Zuriashvili, Nana Biganishvili, Besik Kurtanidze, Magda Memanishvili and Giorgi Mgeladze. All worked at Rustavi2’s “60 Minutes,” an investigative TV news magazine that enjoyed the highest audience ratings in Georgia until it was cancelled following the Rose Revolution and the United National Movement’s rise to power.
By the end of 2006, Studio Monitor was producing independent journalistic investigations with support from international donors (the EU Delegation to Georgia and the British Embassy). When Tbilisi TV stations refused to broadcast the programs (out of fear or fealty to the government) Studio Monitor presented them in a movie theatre.
The very first investigative film by Studio Monitor “Police Ride to Svaneti”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ly9YXO4874E resonated strongly. The film was about Erekle Kodua, a high ranking police officer, who used his position to carry out a personal vendetta. The film wasn’t seen on TV for 5 years, until 2012, when Maestro TV agreed to broadcast it.
By the end of 2007, TV Kavkasia was broadcasting films by Studio Monitor and, after Maestro TV opened in 2008, both TV Kavkasia and TV Maestro were airing films by Studio Monitor. From 2009 until 2014 TV Maestro has continued to broadcast one program by Studio Monitor every two weeks and the films are also aired by regional TV stations Trialeti, Channel 25 and TV Gurjaani. Radio Hereti broadcasts audio versions of the films.
The list of donors grew over the years and, since 2006 has included local foundations and international donors: Open Society Georgia Foundation, US Embassy of Georgia, EU Delegation to Georgia, British Embassy, IREX, NED, and OCCRP.
Since founding, Studio Monitor has prepared more than 120 films/journalistic investigations and four documentary films.
The topics of its journalistic investigations have been wide-ranging: human rights violations, torture of prisoners in the penitentiary system, persecution of teachers on political grounds, violation of private property rights, and control of the media by government. Several films were dedicated to the plight of political prisoners.
Investigations about elite corruption “Friend of Minister” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xDdy5M2WrI and “Non-transparent Rehabilitation” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNzxVWoL0Jw have resonated particularly strongly with the public.
Films by Studio Monitor have collected prizes:
1. The main prize by GIPA and Columbia University Professor Joshua Freedman in three consecutive years:
• In 2012, for the film “Non-transparent Rehabilitation” by Nana Biganishvili, with funding from Open Society Georgia Foundation
The investigation reports on the spending of GEL 367 Million in funds by the Tbilisi Major’s office without public tenders (2006-2011)
• In 2013, for the film “Civilization without Water”, by Nana Naskidashvili, with funding from Open Society Georgia Foundation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atvqbKONZLM
• In 2014, for the film “Rich Poor Imereti” by Nino Zurashvili, with funding from Open Society Georgia Foundation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXyJ-Tv4yJc (III part)
2. European Union Prize in two consecutive years:
• In 2012, for film “Children without Children’s Homes” by Salome Tsetskhladze, with funding from Open Society Georgia Foundation
• In 2013, for film “Agent Provocateur in the Service of Government”, by Giorgi Mgeladze, with funding from NED https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSn2pMn_Tsg
• In 2014, for film “Protecting Vake Park”, by Nana Biganishvili, with funding from NED
3. Certificates of recognition by GIPA and professor of Columbia University Joshua
Freedman, for the film “More Comfort for Government”, by Salome Tsetskhladze
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENKmPo8hr70 and for the film “Farmers Who Were Told Lies” Tskriala Shermadini https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvkfUcjlih4 with funding from Open Society Georgia Foundation.
Studio Monitor also collected prizes and certificates of recognition for the films produced with IREX G-MEDIA funding:
1. In 2013, first place for the best journalistic investigation by Transparency International Georgia, for the film “Entrepreneur against MP”, by Giorgi Mgeladze https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcWISLtoVuA
2. In 2013, prize by Ethics Charter for the film “Tabatskuri Lake and Fishermen’s Woes” by Nana Naskidashvili https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=786OX-8p99k The same film was recognized as the best broadcast work by Civil Society Institute.
Most recently (produced in 2014) a film co-funded by IREX G-MEDIA, “Tbilisi – Paris, a Way to Survival”, which exposes the ineffective treatment of tuberculosis in Georgia and documents how patients must seek help in France, resulted in intense public discussion.
The staff of Studio Monitor, which was established with three reporters and one photographer, has grown to nine journalists and four photographer/editors.