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The host of the public television newscast has been removed

05 October 2012 / 20:10:36  GRReporter
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The decision of the management of the Greek public television ERT to remove the host of the central newscast Eli Stai and to undertake a routine investigation against her is threatening to become a political scandal. It all started two days ago, when her deputy Pinelopi Gavra informed the viewers.

It became clear later that ERT’s head Nikos Simos had ordered the investigation against the TV host. According to an article in Ethnos newspaper, the head of the News Department Emilios Liatsos had informed Eli Stai of this outcome. He told her that the reason for this decision was the dissatisfaction that Vassilis Tomopoulos, who is in charge of the news, had expressed about her.

As Emilios Liatsos himself stated for Ethnos, Vasilis Tomopoulos had actually complained to the head of ERT that Eli Stai undermined his professional reputation and that she was not a good associate, as she was constantly disagreeing with the type and the content of the central newscast. According to Vassilis Tomopoulos, Eli Stai claimed that he knew nothing about his work, she did not want him at the director's board during the central newscast and wanted to have a say about the news topics. Then, they presented the developments to Nikos Simos, who ordered an investigation as well as the removal of the host.

For her part, Eli Stai rejected the allegations. She told ERT’s management that she had always had creative differences with her associates regardless of the post she was taking. "I've always had a word for the presentation of the news I host. This applies to my cooperation with ERT, as stated in my contract," the host said.

According to Ethnos, when she asked why only she would not perform her duties in the course of the investigation, ERT’s head said, "It is because you're on camera, and Mr. Tomopoulos is behind the camera."

The newspaper comments that no one recognizes that the real problem is purely political. "The decision to remove Eli Stai was been taken a long time ago. Her disagreement with the order of the coverage last week was merely the occasion to enforce it."

The host, however, did not intend to let it go. "She knows she is a persona non grata at ERT, but is determined to keep her head up until February next year, when her contract with the public television channel expires." According to sources, she intends to take legal actions against the decision of ERT’s management.

Although it is not yet clear who will win, the eventual complete removal of Eli Stai from the central airing of programmes of ERT should not surprise anyone. And it is because the practice of replacing leading journalists in the public TV with government friendly colleagues whenever the government changes is not new. In this sense, Eli Stai was also appointed with a temporary employment contract after the 2009 elections, which were won by PASOK.

It is an open secret that even private media in Greece are closely linked to politics and that these vicious connections, according to many commentators, have secured huge bank loans for them.

The three major media groups, which are among the 60 largest Greek companies listed on the stock exchange have bank liabilities totalling 415 million euro of which 370 million euro are short-term loans. At the same time, the sum of their capital is less than one tenth of the loans.

This whole chain shows that banks are the main collaborators of the Greek media. The analysis of the balance sheets of banks following the voluntary haircut of the Greek debt and the increased loans "in the red" indicates that the majority of the banks’ old shareholders no longer have capital. At the same time, if banks are not recapitalized they will not be able to function. I.e. they also depend on the lenders’ money, which they will obtain through the political system.  
A corrupt relationship between the political system, the banks and the media has been created over the past years, which it will be very hard to break in the coming years. This circle could be eventually broken if Europeans decide to take part in the bank recapitalization directly, without the intervention of the state.
It is not very likely that this will happen at present. This means that the recapitalization and allocation of liquidity in the media market too will also be according to the criteria of the local political system, not according to bank criteria. And it will lead to the well-known corrupt relationship between the media and the government with disastrous consequences for objective journalism.

Tags: MediaPublic TVsERTEli StaiRemovalCorrupted connections between government and media
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