Nationwide Survey on Media Landscape in Greece
Survey and Analysis of Results
Analysis by John D. Papadopoulos and Mario Schmidt
In August 30 the tender on the four national TV licenses is taking place in Athens. So far, the nine contenders that take part in the final stage of the competition have been scrutinized by the relevant independent authority. The process might possibly take up to three or four days.
The aim of the Greek government is to create conditions of transparency in the domestic media landscape and establish rules in a market that has been consistently distorted for more than 25 years.
A. Media Landscape
The results of our survey depict a strong public endorsement of the efforts of the government on that field. 62% of the respondents believe that the tender should keep on, despite the fierce reaction from the current owners of the TV channels. Similarly, 65% agree with the judgement of the Council of State that the competition should conclude successfully, basing that judgement on reasons of national concern. Only 23% support the view of the TV channels' owners and front opposition party arguing that the tender is "unconstitutional".
During the last year, many of the owners of media outlets and TV channels have strongly opposed to the intention of the government to create rules of transparency in the media landscape. The debate has been intense, especially after the decision of the government early this year to pass a bill in the Parliament authorizing the government to move on to the tender. The public authority responsible for the media in Greece has been completely discredited by the front opposition party during the vote in the Parliament, thus blocking its authorization to launch the competition.
In the meantime, the government established a Parliamentary Committee to investigate the loan policy of the banking institutions towards TV channels. In this context, addressing the Committee, owner of SKAI TV group Mr Alafouzos stated that SKAI has the right to endorse or express a certain political view. Only 30% of respondents agreed with this position, with almost 60% supported the view that TV channels have to preserve objectivity and avoid media bias.
Another controversial case gathering different arguments is that of MEGA Channel which has been eliminated in the first stage of the tender, being also forced to shutdown for financial reasons. 70% of the respondents endorsed the view that the channel was pushed to shutdown due to its shareholders -i.e. financial reasons- and not due to a certain policy of the government that aimed at imposing censorship.
Furthermore, 69% of the respondents did endorse the position of the government that the front opposition party New Democracy is playing a rather obscure role in the process of establishing rules and transparency in the media. In this respect, 71% favor the creation of the relevant Parliamentary Committee to investigate accusations on the grounds that media outlets have been developing for years a preferential partnership with banking institutions that has permitted them to facilitate the process of financing and address liquidity issues.
B. Political Developments - Economy
Meanwhile, our survey also emphasized on a couple of political and economic developments. In September 9, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras has invited the leaders of the European South to meet in Athens and discuss on the major issues of the European Union and Eurozone, in an effort to shift balances and build a wide alliance against austerity politics (see the story here). 74% of the respondents agreed with this initiative, with 19% turned against.
Interesting are also the results on the following question (No. 8) over the endeavors towards the creation of a new centre-left party. President of the socialist party PASOK Fofi Gennimata gathers more than half of positive views, with Yiannis Stournaras following her with almost 30%. The discussions have remained in shallow waters, though it is highly probable that the list of the possible candidates will grow over the next months.
The last question embarks on the steady de-escalation of unemployment rates. 80% believe that every government should focus on that topic, placing the combat against unemployment as top priority. In this specific field, despite positive signs, there are a lot of things to be done and plenty of space for improvements.
August 29, 2016