OPINION

Media influence

This year, the arrival of September not only marks the beginning of the new political year but also the informal, yet essential, launch of the pre-election contest. In this contest, the voters will play the key role but significant weight is also carried by those factions in a position to influence the electoral balance of power in one way or another. Primarily, these are the media «barons» who have long proffered political support to the government in exchange for privileged access to state funds. The control of powerful mass media organizations is a weapon in the hands of major economic players who want to clinch state contracts and exert their influence on political affairs from their «untouchable» position behind the scenes. Their power has not been gained via popular vote and so they can operate outside current party conflicts. These players have the power to pressure – and occasionally bribe – governments in order to promote their own interests. For quite some time, Costas Simitis avoided frankly discussing this problem. Every citizen knows that the television channels and most newspapers are controlled by major contractors and suppliers. The truth is that the government tolerates this situation not only out of fear of the cost of clashing with powerful «centers of influence» but also because it has, quite evidently, secured the blatant support of the majority of mass media organizations…