Media circus has gone over the top

Breaking news, special bulletins, urgent news flashes: In the space of just seven days, 90 urgent news flashes broke the regular flow of programming to show live footage of George Papandreou heading for his village of Kalentzi or capture his conveyance – of historic significance – from the Parliament building to the offices of his party’s youth wing. To the public appearances of PASOK’s future president, as a kind of salacious tidbit, are added those of the leader of the opposition. Thus the semblance of balance is maintained. But exaggeration and wordy pomposity have reached saturation point. All other parties represented in the Greek and European parliaments have disappeared from the screens altogether, or appear so fleetingly that the truncated statements of their representatives sound incoherent, to say the least. Pre-electoral televisual hysteria, expressed in the blatant camera-worship of Mr Papandreou, not only does injustice to other parties and their candidates, but undermines the gravity of the electoral system and produces greater aversion to politics. Simultaneously, it spurns democratic achievements and constitutional stipulations regarding objective broadcasting. These negative phenomena have prompted a stern reprimand from the national broadcast watchdog, ESR, as well as interjections and protests from Costas Karamanlis, the parties of the Left and the Democratic Social Movement (DIKKI). However, according to the press and mass media minister, Christos Protopapas, the media is simply showing «justified» interest in political developments. Political culture may be doing just fine, but television culture is seriously sick. By all indications up to now, we are heading for the most media-dominated elections since the fall of the junta.

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