Greece’s media outlets, many with political agendas and criticized as being run by business interests closely aligned with government administrations, are being hit hard by the country’s crushing economic crisis, with some in dire financial straits.
Nikos Xidakis, a columnist with the influential and respected Kathimerini daily, wrote: “The media was like a bomb ready to explode. The media organs used by some oligarchs to expand their sphere of influence have exploded.” The Director of the state-run broadcaster ERT World, Nikos Megrelis, has agreed.
Since 2008, Alter TV has been shut down, leaving its workers unpaid, and the ownership of the Alpha television network has changed two times. When Eleftherotypia – the second largest paper in the country – was shut down, 980 people lost their jobs. To Vima, one of Greece’s most prestigious papers, owned by media giant Lambrakis Press Group, is now published only on Sundays.
A well-known journalist, Paulos Tsimas summarized the overall situation at Mega Channel, one of the most popular TV stations in the country. “Since the beginning, Mega has tried to avoid layoffs. Top executives who were working for great salaries agreed to reductions to keep the others employed. However, this summer, 30 – 40 per cent of our colleagues had to leave.”
Tsimas also drew attention to the tension between the people and the media, which he said did not adequately report on the country’s economic problems: “The people were caught unprepared by the crisis. It is natural for them to blame the media for not warning,” he said.
Megrelis has a pessimistic view of the future, “There could be more shutdowns in the media,” he said. The newspapers Ta Nea, Ethnos and Kathimerini, which were selling 70,000 copies daily before the crisis, now have a circulation of 30,000 to 35,000. The total circulation of Proto Thema, To Vima, Kathimerini and Ethnos on Sundays has declined from 250,000 to 100,000.