OPINION

Discredited

Greece’s broadcasting watchdog yesterday confirmed its denial to issue a so-called certificate of transparency to the Aktor construction firm, rejecting an appeal lodged by the company. The National Radio and Television Council (ESR) rebuffed claims that Aktor is economically independent from the media organizations under the same group. In addition, the ESR refused to award another three transparency certificates – documents that confirm that a public contractor is in line with legislation to withhold state contracts from media moguls – for projects that were to be undertaken by the same firm. Leonidas Bobolas, son of media baron Giorgos Bobolas, who owned Aktor, resigned yesterday thereby acknowledging the legal and constitutional snag emerging from his role in a media-construction link that is prohibited by law. At the same time, an Athens prosecutor said that he is investigating reports and allegations of the conditions under which the ESR has been issuing the controversial certificates. The findings will determine whether he will order a preliminary inquiry into the matter. These highly revealing incidents leave no doubt about what has been going on in recent years. The broadcasting watchdog, an independent body only by name, bent to the whims of power, issuing scores of transparency certificates that gave specific firms the power to monopolize public contracts and commissions. It was the very members of that supposedly independent body who undermined its autonomous character. There was no real monitoring and the law was implemented only in theory. Constitutional provisions were shunned. It now turns out that key figures inside the body torpedoed its functioning. They stripped it of all credibility, reducing it to a problematic institution with no real purpose. The repercussions of this behavior are hard to evaluate. Hundreds of billions of drachmas went into designated pockets – always in accordance with the documents issued by the ESR. These documents legitimated and at the same time perpetuated the cycle of political and business entanglement. The responsibilities of the ESR members are huge. As is the responsibility of the supposedly unknowing politicians – those who used to lash out against all foes but now remain still and those who keep quiet on major issues and make a big fuss about trivial matters.