TV ratings soar due to war

Despite a medley of reports and a relative dearth of images, Greek television viewers have been able to hear and see what has been happening to the Iraqis, thanks to the efforts of Greek war correspondents. Professionalism and a conscientious approach have prevailed over infighting among the channels, one of which did not hesitate to claim a world exclusive, even ahead of CNN, on the start of the bombing of Baghdad and the slaughter in a street market. Eftychia Pentaraki, Sotiris Danezis, Eleni Kalogeropoulou, Giorgos Philippakis, Yiannis Kanellakis and Yiannis Diakoyiannis, who were still in the city as of last Friday, as well as Costas Vaxevanis, Maria Karchilaki, Nikolas Vafeiadis and other journalists and technicians, have impressed viewers by deciding to stay in Baghdad until very recently, doing their job as best as they can with a background of exploding bombs. Cost of transmitting Given the circumstances, live satellite broadcasts cost 1,000 to 1,500 euros per second, depending on the area. There are four to eight of these daily. Then there is the cost of technical support, the number of specialized journalists and analysts, which sends costs skyrocketing. According to sources, a major private channel has estimated that its total costs will rise as high as 2.5 million to 2.9 million euros. So far, it has spent 880,000 euros. Given the crisis in advertising – since reports of the war cannot be juxtaposed with advertisements for shampoo or perfume – and heightened competition between channels, the atmosphere within the media has been tense indeed. The fact is that this time, Greek channels have not just linked up with CNN as they did in 1991, but with Britain’s Sky News, America’s Fox, the Arab channel Al Jazeera, of course, and more recently, the Abu Dhabi network. Higher ratings School pupils have been shouting slogans urging people to get up from their couches and go out and demonstrate against the war, but the electrifying images and concern over the future of the region have kept people glued to their television screens, sending ratings sky-high, according to polling firm AGB. NET, a state channel, which has been broadcasting reports of the war non-stop since day one, has doubled its share of the viewing public to 10 percent. Along with NET’s regular viewers, more people also said that they had watched the channel, even if only for a minute. On March 22, for example, the third day of the war, NET’s market share reached 12.8 percent compared to 5.7 percent for February and 5.8 percent between March 1 and 15. The same day, 48.3 percent of viewers zapped to NET for at least a minute (compared to 42 and 40.1 percent respectively). Those who usually watch NET gave it 50 minutes more of their attention than usual (80 minutes compared to 38 minutes previously). Morning shows Viewers prefer morning news programs (between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.), whose ratings rose to 10.2 percent between March 20 and 27, up from 8.5 percent in the first three weeks of the month. Current affairs programs such as «Files» also did well, despite their time slot at the same time as adult entertainment, as commentator Alexis Papahelas observed. «Files» raised its ratings from 20.5 percent of the market on March 25, to 21.7 percent the next day. Also interesting is the choice of theme music chosen by channels for their reports on the war – most of the music is dramatic and jarring, while NET has chosen an old Apollo 440 song, «Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Dub.» Meanwhile, every possible kind of graphics, maps and digital images – even aircraft «aimed» at presenters – are being used in the effort to make the reporting of events as convincing as possible.