Media crisis in Greece comes as a consequence of the lack of real democracy that becomes more and more intensive. If in Greece, there is a non-pluralistic sector of public life, this is definitely the mainstream private media. These stations took their license to transmit through public frequencies after a ministerial decision back in 1989. This decision gave the opportunity to people who had “a traditional experience in the Media System”, to establish “non-state television channels”. The particular law that gives this ability is actually based on a governmental law of the 1970s that opens the way just for amateur local TV and radio stations. These businessmen, who were described to the fore mentioned law, were none other than the major well established publishers. They were the first to deal with this whole new status and seize the upcoming opportunity. The basic criterion so far for having a license to use the public frequencies in order to transmit a TV signal, was only the quality of the projected program.
For many years, the private mainstream media were identical to corruption and many times accused for manipulating the public opinion. The “framing” method* was presented as the main rule in journalism, most of the times without penalties by the National TV and radio council. The last extremely intense phenomenon of framing by the Greek media, happened during the social explosion of December 2008, when police shot a 15-year-old boy causing massive riots. Greek Television and newspapers, merely the riots and clashes and incorporate them inside the peaceful news context of the youth movement. As a result we had a total overthrow of the public opinion in interest of the Greek government and the police. The main enemy of the system at that time was SYRIZA. SYRIZA, who was nothing but reasonable and respectful to the thousands of young students who were demonstrating across Greece, said that we do not agree with the violent riots and brutalities but we have to focus on the reasons that provoke the whole social explosion: social exclusion, education, unemployment. From this point of view, December 2008 was a glimpse from the future economic and social crisis. A crisis of the democracy itself.
It has to be stressed that none of the dominant media organizations that own TV channels, have paid so far anything for the public frequencies they use. On the contrary, these particular media are sources of bad quality news and closely connected with private business plans and public investments. It is highly indicative, that the four of the biggest Greek TV stations are owned by ship owners and owners of big construction enterprises that undertake all the major public construction projects. SYRIZA has repeatedly described this situations as a “triangle of sin”, consisted of the two former major parties (PASOK and New Democracy), TV station owner and bankers. The story goes like this: governments favour the banks in a thousand ways, bankers then give loans to the TV stations and to the business of their owners, and as a result, their TV stations support the government. All these have caused a great lack of democracy and Greek people share this view in high percentages.
SYRIZA has a clear thesis on this. All TV stations that use public frequencies in order to transmit their signals have to pay for this concession. A democratic and effective National TV and Radio Council will also be a crucial parameter towards this direction. Dealing with these issues that all previous governments have created and taken advantage of, is of the utmost importance for a government of the Left.
* In the field of communication, framing defines how news media coverage shapes mass opinion. To be specific, framing effects refer to behavioural or attitudinal outcomes that are due to how a given piece of information is being framed in public discourse.