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Last updated at 14:39 GMT, Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Jobs creation show criticised

Summary

31 January 2012

Georgia has come up with an unusual way to create jobs at a time when countries around the world struggle with high unemployment: a TV show. But it's sparkled criticism that the government is using it to win votes for October's parliamentary elections.

Reporter
Damien McGuinness

workers in Tbilisi

Countries all over the world are engaged in creating jobs

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Report

In a small room at the back of a draughty, crumbling warehouse, Zaza Janezashvili carefully feeds coloured thread into a huge creaking machine.

A few minutes later a bright yellow sock pops out. He's now able to buy new machinery to expand production ten-fold. And it's all thanks to reality TV.

He won a low-rate loan on Georgia's latest television hit. In the programme, its host, the mayor of Tbilisi, a possible successor to President Saakashvili, shows off local building projects. He then decides which entrepreneur deserves to win a government-backed low-interest loan.

Critics, such as political scientist Koba Turmanidze, say this is political propaganda masquerading as reality TV.

Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava denies using TV to win votes.

But all three national channels are pro-government. Some reporters fear losing their jobs if they are too critical. Politicians handing out loans on TV may seem like electioneering but with interest rates over 20 per cent and almost a third of the population out of work, Zaza says he's grateful for any help he can get.

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Vocabulary

draughty

room prone to have unpleasant cold wind flowing through

expand

increase

reality TV

show made for television starring ordinary people being observed in their ordinary roles

low-rate loan

money borrowed cheaply

successor

a person who follows another in a particular post

entrepreneur

a person who starts a business

propaganda

dissemination of biased information

masquerading

pretending to be something else

denies

says that something is not true

electioneering

statement or act performed solely with the objective of attracting votes

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