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Greek media suffer from the lack of freedom and independence

11 December 2012 / 21:12:21  GRReporter
6132 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Greek media are fully subject to the policy that the central government defines for them, according to the study of the European Mediadem project. It analyzes the processes in defining the policy and the regulatory measures that promote or restrict the freedom and independence of media in 14 European countries.

Researchers from the European Foundation for European and Foreign Policy ELIAMEP presented the results. The interested parties, i.e. media representatives and other organizations cannot participate in the formation of the media policy because the Greek law does not provide for such discussions.

"This creates favourable conditions for exerting political pressure on the media. At the same time, their owners can have significant influence on the adoption of the media policy through the invisible links they create with the authority. As a result, Greece has a complex and confusing legal framework which in no way provides an effective supervision of the media market," said researcher Anna Kandyla.

She cited as the most typical example the fact that private televisions operate without a licence in practice, because the authorities themselves have not completed this process. The result is an unregulated market that does not operate in favour of the public interest.

On the other hand, the independent body that should observe the proper functioning of the media is not actually doing it. The government appoints the members of the National Council for Radio and Television and in the majority of cases, they are not representatives of the industry. There is no legal framework to facilitate the supervision either. At the same time, the decisions of the Council are far from being defined as actions protecting the media from political or other external influences. In many cases, these decisions restrict the freedom of speech because they have been adopted to protect public officials and institutions.

One of the most topical issues in the Greek media market is the corrupt relationships between the political elite and the owners of private media, which have led to its present chaotic state. The majority of them used the media as a tool to exert pressure on the government in order to obtain other benefits. The excellent financial condition of a large number of media in the past was actually the result of other business activities of their owners, which were mostly related to the implementation of government contracts. Another aspect of these relationships is the selective financing and allocating of advertisements by the central government to specific media, without considering that it may harm their objectivity.

As confirmed by the study, the state broadcaster ERT is far from being defined as a public media. Even today, the government appoints its management and it may dismiss any member of the board when it likes. This reinforces the belief that the state-owned television acts as the government's press service, its full funding from the state budget being an additional factor for that belief.

According to the researchers, journalists in Greece have failed to introduce alone a system of internal regulation to protect the right of journalists to express themselves freely and in a responsible manner. As explained, journalistic unions have been dealing with the salaries and social rights of journalists for years. But even if they had succeeded, the fact that not all journalists were members of the unions would not have driven them to follow specific rules.

The researcher summarized that the situation in the Greek media was similar to that in other European countries such as Italy, Spain and Bulgaria. "But I could say that the differences between the 14 countries, whose media markets we have analyzed, are not great," she added.

The complete results of the study in all countries and the proposals for promoting the freedom and independence of the media are available on www.mediadem.eliamep.gr/findings/.

 

Tags: MediaMediadem projectIndependenceFreedom of speech
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