Back in the Middle Ages, many alchemists burned up their gray matter, and even sacrificed their lives trying to turn the most trivial things into gold. Persistent, albeit fruitless, efforts finally yielded fruit after many centuries in 21st-century Greece. The achievement did not take place in some science lab, as one would have expected, but rather in Greece’s television studios. We are, of course, referring to private television news broadcasts, that most successful recycling industry which transforms trash into true gold for media owners. Kathimerini’s Sunday edition thought of recording, minute for minute, the evening news broadcasts of the major private stations on a random day and presenting the big news items and their kitsch style on the front page of an imaginary newspaper. The only element that interested channels during the historical Clerides-Denktash meeting was the gastronomic details of the formal dinner. An exclusive interview of Russian President Vladimir Putin occupied, at best, 21st position among the 24 themes of the news broadcast. The top spots were rightfully devoted to the rapist (most preferably a pederast) of the day or to the various stars who advertise everything but their vocal chords or acting abilities. In a few words, news broadcasts present a virtual world that deifies the trivial and sidelines what is important for the lives and the future of real people. The usual that’s-what-people-want excuse is not convincing. In many European and North American states the news broadcast by state and private channels alike remain, despite their shortcomings, strictly focused on substantial news and have not become the most cheap (and trivial) spectacles. In Greece, the television audience does not have any room for choice, as they are trapped between serious but state-run, and hence biased, television and private impunity that offends public intelligence. The responsibilities of the national radio and television council are huge as it has avoided imposing rules to tackle the chaos created by this type of commercial television which undermines one of the basic social needs – unbiased and reliable news, one of the fundamental elements of democracy. Putin has avoided confrontation with the United States in order to consolidate Russia’s international prestige, but the terrorist assault of September 11 has rendered Moscow a valuable partner of Washington.

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