Greece THE MEDIA
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
The Greek press is highly politicized and actively competes for readership, at times in a sensationalist and intensely partisan manner. Since the state monopoly of radio and television ended in 1987, the number of independent radio and television stations and channels has grown rapidly. The constitution prohibits censorship and all other government practices hindering freedom of the press. The last remaining vestiges of press restriction were only removed in August 1994, however, fifty-six years after the Metaxas dictatorship first imposed them (see the Metaxas Era , ch. 1).
The role of the media in bringing down the Papandreou government after the Koskotas scandal in 1989 was evidence that the media liberalization of the 1980s had established a new and explosive range of power and patronage relationships. However, the PASOK administration had already devised an institutional response to media power by appointing an American-style government spokesperson to handle daily confrontations with the press. The ND administrations that followed found a spokesperson just as useful. Further confirmation of the new importance of media power came in 1994 when, in addition to the government spokesperson, the second reshuffle of the Papandreou government included a minister of the press among cabinet officials.
The main source of printed news is the Athens News Agency, also known as Athenagence or ANA, which has correspondents in all the larger towns in Greece and some foreign bureaus. Greece has more newspaper and magazine titles per capita than any other country in Europe--120 daily newspapers and about 1,000 weeklies and fortnightlies are published. No daily paper dominates--rather, all the major papers sell between 50,000 and 150,000 copies, providing fierce competition (see table 13, Appendix). All legal political parties have been able to rely on at least one newspaper to spread their views to constituents. Fifteen major dailies appear in Athens alone. Readership averages 150 per 1,000 population. Newspaper ownership is becoming more concentrated, although it is still diverse by European standards.
Initially established under the interwar Metaxas dictatorship, the national radio network remained under government control in the postwar period, becoming an important tool in promoting the strongly conservative and anticommunist views of the state. Although state control of radio never was explicitly set out in law, when television was introduced in 1968 the ruling military junta passed laws giving the government exclusive control of that medium.
In the newly democratic climate that followed the junta's fall in 1974, the public's thirst for political discourse was soon turned into a powerful weapon by governing parties. The prime-time news of all three television networks was dominated by positive portrayals of government and party activities. In 1987, however, Athens mayor Miltiadis Evert, an opposition candidate newly elected in an upset, became the first to exercise the legal possibility of opposition radio broadcasting. He opened an independent station in Athens, and soon hundreds of independent stations had begun broadcasting throughout Greece. In April 1989, Greek courts ruled that state monopoly of broadcasting violated EC standards, and in October the Assembly legalized private ownership of television stations.
The introduction of privately owned radio and television stations has brought a new attitude from the government toward the mass media. Because state-controlled media outlets are now confronted with severe criticism and competition from media that the state had previously monopolized, the government has consistently attempted to improve the image carried by independent networks. Despite the liberalization of the late 1980s, however, the state-owned Greek Radio and Television (Elliniki Radiofonia Tileorasi--ERT) still dominates radio and television. In 1989 an independent committee was established to administer ERT, to loosen the control exercised since 1975 by the General Secretariat for Press and Information, and to improve programming.
Data as of December 1994
NOTE: The information regarding Greece on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Greece THE MEDIA information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Greece THE MEDIA should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.