On Pegasus’ wings

One wonders why Theodoros Angelopoulos and Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki thought of spending 150 to 200 million euros to buy Pegasus, the loss-making media group controlled by construction magnate George Bobolas. Despite the breakdown of talks yesterday, the question is still worth answering. Most agreed that the acquisition of Pegasus would have served Mrs Angelopoulos-Dasakalaki’s political ambitions. Naturally, commentators speculated on the former Athens 2004 chief’s next steps: what the political line of her newly acquired media group would be, whether she would back or undermine the current bipolar system, and whether she would use one of the existing parties to climb to the premiership or set up a new faction. If that is what buying Pegasus was all about, it was clearly a wrongheaded decision. In politics, when the ends are known beforehand, people are keen to scrutinize the means. As usually happens, overexposure of Mrs Angelopoulos-Daskalaki in her new media would have done more harm than good, at best turning her into a media celebrity. There is also a more serious dimension to the issue: the use of the media to manipulate public opinion and to promote economic or political ends. Bobolas admitted that he had to sell Pegasus after the conservative administration made it clear that he could not keep his hands on a loss-making media group and a lucrative yet near-monopoly share in state contracts. His dual status was rightly deemed harmful to the public good. So Mrs Angelopoulos-Daskalaki must have been eying a senior public office. In other words, she intended to use the media to build a Berlusconi-type hegemony over public life. Would she have succeeded? It’s highly unlikely. A pending bill intends to curb the concentration of media firms, hindering the aspiring imitators of Berlusconi at home.