All about the money

All about the money

The competition for four broadcasting licenses was presented by the government as a process that would deliver a resounding slap to corruption and entangled interests.

Government officials and, of course, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras never tired of repeating it in the runup to the event itself, and even the international press focused on this point.

One German newspaper suggested in an article concerning the tender that it would put an end to the past status quo, whereby media barons used their television stations to pander to different interests rather than providing unbiased reporting.

This is not the only example of foreign media blithely accepting the SYRIZA party line, which argues that the entire purpose of controlling the number of broadcasters allowed a license and the licensing procedure was intended to break the bonds of corruption between the media, bankers and politicians.

We ask ourselves though, was the spectacle of the bidders being led into the building housing the General Secretariat for Information with their suitcases, where they would be locked up for 65 hours, the process, the money that was pledged (money was after all the only prerequisite for participation), seen as nothing more than the components of a ritual?

For days now, Greeks have been closely watching the conditions under which a competition was held, in complete secrecy, a competition where the commodity in question was information.

For days now, the big issue was supposed to have been the future and reshaping of the media landscape, of how society is informed, educated and entertained.

Instead, the only thing that stood about this drama was the money involved, money as the only term and rule of a game. The government’s only concern was apparently that it didn’t want to show its hand and spoil the bidding. So absolute secrecy was translated into complete transparency (ironic, since the only person who knew exactly what was going on was State Minister Nikos Pappas).

So now that it’s over, who was really hurt by this process? Corruption? Who was slapped in the face? Vested interests? And what was it all about? What was it trying to accomplish? Bringing a few million euros into the state coffers when all other ways of drumming up revenues have failed?

The whole thing was disorienting and humiliating for a society looking on as though it were some kind of reality show, broadcast live and inevitably associating the way society is informed with a game of poker.

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