September 17, 2016 / By Mary Harris
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) on Friday voiced concerns that a new law restricting the number of television broadcasting licences in Greece to four will undermine pluralism and independent journalism in the Greek media. In an announcement posted on the EFJ website, it backed the Athens journalists’ union ESHEA in denouncing the closure of four out of eight Greek private TV channels and the thousands of job losses that will result.
“The EFJ strongly supports the mobilization of media workers in the protest to safeguard media pluralism and independent journalism in Greece.”
“Early this year, the Greek government has passed a law to allow only four TV licences to issue to private broadcasters. The European Commission expressed serious concerns about media independence in the country. On August 30, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government launched the auctions claiming that it would crack down on corruption in the media sector and enable better regulation,” the EFJ announcement said.
Prior to the results, it added, the Greek journalists union ESHEA had expressed their concerns regarding media concentration, media ownership opacity, job losses and threats for journalists’ social rights and independence.
“The four 10-year licences were successfully bid on 2 September by three shipowners and a construction magnate. Two of them already own the major private TV stations. Currently, Greece has eight TV channels. Following the bid, four of these channels will have to suspend operations within 90 days,” EFJ pointed out.
It cited ESHEA’s statement that the closure could cost the jobs of 1800 journalists, technical staff and employees, while also having an impact on another 3,000 media industry workers.
“The case will be submitted to the Council of Europe platform for the protection and safety of journalism, and the EFJ will write to the European Commissioner Günther Oettinger regarding the case,” the announcement said.