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Greece does not need six state television channels with an annual budget of 300 million euro

07 January 2012 / 09:01:26  GRReporter
3831 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova


Journalistic ethics is criticized daily. From the former cafes and pubs to today's comments under the articles in electronic journals,readers, viewers and listeners discuss, agree or oppose the views of the author journalist.

In this lies the beauty of freedom of speech, some might say and they would be completely right. But what happens when a journalist shakes his finger at another journalist for what he wrote? Or furthermore when a disagreement with a publicly expressed position is sent to the "court" before the disciplinary bodies of the journalists?

This is the case of Paschos Mandravelis, a famous Greek journalist and commentator for one of the largest national daily papers, Kathimerini.

"On 10th December, 2011 I wrote an article which indicated that the strike in the state TV ERT had been going on for a week without causing any reaction. There were no calls of support from the society, nor were there any protests that the viewers missed the ERT programmes. I also wrote that actions of this type by the trade union have no impact on society and are doomed, and finally they turn into a boomerang against the journalists themselves.

ERT trade union representatives filed a complaint, something like a "suit" against me in the disciplinary council of the journalist union, of which I am a member and accused me of violating journalistic ethics. Later I sent them a letter in which I wrote that the code of journalistic ethics protects the right of journalists to write freely. Ultimately I had not made my personal attacks on anyone, but rather I had just voiced my opinion about an action of the trade union. I chose three witnesses in my defense, one of whom is the union president Dimitris Trimis, so that we could discuss the question of whether journalists in Greece can write what they want. And whether according to the union there are some issues that should not be discussed".

Paschos Mandravelis published this letter to the Journalistic Union, "because this is not just about me, but about how trade unions understand the journalistic freedom of speech. If they forbid me to write about their union activities in the ERT, tomorrow they could prohibit someone else from writing something else. That is why I await the decision of the disciplinary council with great excitement. If its members decide to impose a punishment on me for something I wrote, than all my colleagues would be afraid to write because the Disciplinary Council may decide that it is not good to write this or that".

He himself does not think that he has made a mistake in his article. "If this were the case, the two colleagues from the ERT could have responded the same way. They could’ve stated that I am wrong, because for example they have received a million letters from viewers, in which they say they miss the state television. They could have also expressed their objections in other ways. The essence of the problem lies however not in this, but in the fact that the opposition is being criminalized".

Paschos Mandravelis is not one of those people who hide behind their finger. It is his opinion that a country like Greece with 11 million residents, especially at a time when it is threatened by bankruptcy, does not need six state televisions. In his article he states that they cost the state budget the incredibly high amount of 300 million euro, i.e. to the Greek taxpayers, but he does not state that he is in favour of their closure. "I truly believe in the need to have public television, especially bearing in mind the poor quality of private broadcasters. But I think that three televisions, are quite sufficient. One may be with educational programmes, the second to broadcast political programmes and news and the third to present cultural programmes. Considering that America has only one state TV PBS, whose programme is laudable I cannot understand why Greece, with its 10 million inhabitants needs six. Each Greek household pays 4.25 euro per mont for them. Ultimately, they do need this money. This is my main objection".

Meanwhile, shortly before the end of 2010, the Greek government introduced an amendment to the recently voted law and removed the journalists in the state media from the list of civil servants, whose salaries will be adjusted according to the new common payroll table. "I personally think that journalists should not be considered civil servants, they should not act this way. But on the other hand, they must give up also their privileges such as having permanent employment contracts for example".

In conclusion, the famous journalist pointed out that "in our country there are a number of irregularities and distortions. The problem of Greece is not just one, but many small problems that ultimately drove it to bankruptcy".

Tags: media ERT article Paschos Mandravelis Katimerini journalistic union freedom of speech
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