Tuesday 15 June 2010

Enjoying Greek Public Television (or not)

I’m increasingly convinced that at least 25% of the “problem” in Greece is the lack of a really good, objective and independent national media. This has always been the case, of course, but I’m not sure this sad situation can or should be allowed to continue given the magnitude of the crisis.

On the “NET” news bulletin today, the final clip just before the athletic bulletin was that of Deputy Minister of Health Fofi Gennimata touring a hospital somewhere, possibly in Boeotia. The clip was footage taken from “Star TV”, one of the more ridiculous Greek channels. The clip was entirely out of synch with anything important going on today: the subject was the functioning of some new piece of equipment.

Does Greek public television, a mammoth public organisation financed by mandatory household taxes, really need to show a “Star TV” clip of the Deputy Health Minister in Boeotia? Why? To assure us that she is actually working? Can’t we be a little more subtle in the political manipulation of the news?

What will PASOK order up next? Reports on Greece’s annual wheat cultivation, proclaiming a record harvest? Or the targets of our next 10-year plan for agricultural tractor production?

A little while later, the ET3 anchor was presenting the hospital – pharmaceutical provider “crisis”. His sentence was to the effect that “patients are being held as hostages (ομηρία) by the pharmaceutical providers.”

Hello? There are companies which are still trying to collect debts which date back to 2007 and before, and who have stopped supplying the public hospitals because they are owed money. Yes, of course there have been lots of scandals regarding the cost of pharmaceuticals and consumables in the public healthcare system. And we know exactly why: so that administrators and doctors would make bribes off the procurement contracts, just as they take bribes (“fakellakia”) to arrange routine medical treatment. Did anyone force the government or the public healthcare system to enter these agreements?

There is a double standard at work:

· When dockworkers close off the ports and prevent tourists from boarding their ships, is this called “ομηρία”?

· When student unionists prevent university staff from leaving or entering their university offices, is this called “ομηρία”?

· When the government delays payments to fire fighters, teachers and social workers on part-time contracts, is this called “ομηρία”?

· When the government unilaterally decides to delay the refund of VAT until September, is this called “ομηρία”?

Of course not. It’s only when the government realises it has to pay, that it’s erstwhile “opponents” become “hostage takers.”

This may sound like a minor issue, given the state of things today. But to me, it shows a sloppy and politicised approach to public broadcasting, which unfortunately reflects the double standards and lassitude of public sector officials today.

It does nothing to contribute to an objective public understanding of critical issues affecting the Greek taxpayer. When adding this to the fact that ERT employs over 3,500 staff, runs at least 8 TV channels, and 5 orchestras, it’s very clear that the public sector reforms are not nearly as comprehensive as they should be. The opposite is true.

Related Posts

Neither PASOK nor ND have a plan to Reform the Public Sector in Greece September 4th, 2009


  1. Once again I can only sit back and agree with everything... I cuold also add dozens other examples of "ομηρία" that the media so elequently fail to recognize (e.g. farmers or anyone else blocking the roads and stopping the free passage of people as well as goods... and I will stop here as the list is probably endless!)...
    As for the cost of ERT and the rest... there is no real measure of the escalating expenditure for a product that is not acceptable by anyones standards... prime example the commentating of the world cup or the fact that it took them 5 days to realise that people actually like to see the score line and the time remaining on the top of the screen anytime they tune to a game...

    No comment...

  2. And the main problem is - we have no choice in the matter. Whether you watch it or not, you have to pay.