Role of the media is questioned

As the government hinted over the weekend that elements in the media may have tried to trap officials in corrupt activities, the former leader of Synaspismos Left Coalition told Sunday’s Kathimerini that regulatory laws need to be introduced to prevent the lack of transparency in the industry. A woman was charged on Friday with attempting to bribe an employee at the Labor Ministry after allegedly leaving a 5,000-euro check for him in a box of sweets. His superior, Deputy Labor Minister Gerasimos Giakoumatos, said on Saturday that the woman had recorded the event with a hidden camera and tape recorder. Giakoumatos said he would not be «terrorized» by his opponents. The incident stirred up intense debate over the weekend about the role of the media – television channels in particular – and their relationships with political parties. Nikos Constantopoulos, the former leader of Synaspismos and a current MP for the party, drew flak from some sections of the media last week when he decried the links between some media tycoons and companies which are granted contracts for public works. «Corruption and entangled interests have established themselves in the central core of our political system,» Constantopoulos said. «This is the real reason for the squandering of public money and the lack of economic development.» The government passed a law in January barring media tycoons from being able to bid for state contracts but has since been locked in discussion with Brussels about changing the law because it is considered too strict for European Union legislation. Constantopoulos also called for greater regulation of television and radio stations. «We are the only country where businessmen involved in this sector spend a lot of money to produce such a cheap product,» he said. The process by which broadcasting licenses are granted is another area that has often come under scrutiny. There are currently 159 stations around the country operating on temporary licenses, according to the National Council for Radio and Television (ESR).