New era for broadcasting

An open discussion was launched by the government yesterday as part of an effort to come up with ways to change the much criticized quality of Greek television and radio and the chaotic way in which licenses are handed out. «The past should serve as a warning to all of us,» said Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos at Zappeion Hall in Athens as he marked the beginning of what has been termed a public dialogue about the state of radio and television in Greece. Roussopoulos put forward 11 proposals for discussion during the dialogue, which is due to last until February 16. The public can submit ideas via the Internet. Roussopoulos said that representatives of interested parties had until January 16 to make their ideas known. Among the proposals for discussion are finding ways of regulating the broadcasting industry so that media owners are not able exercise influence over their outlets and thereby affect objectivity and public opinion. Viewers have increasingly been voicing their frustration with the reliability of television news this year. A poll conducted by VPRC last month suggested that 61 percent of people believe that television distorts the facts. Television ratings remain high but there is general acceptance that something has to be done to ensure less bias and more quality in the shows that go on the air. Roussopoulos suggested there should be limits on the number and type of media outlets owned by the same company or businessman. «The modern age demands our cooperation and commitment to improving the quality of the broadcasting industry,» Roussopoulos told an audience which included representatives from television and radio stations, universities, the Competition Commission and the head of the industry watchdog, the National Council for Radio and Television (ESR). The minister also outlined plans for companies to meet certain financial and professional criteria before they are granted licenses. They would also have to meet certain standards and provide financial guarantees to ensure that they were not taken off air.