OPINION

Hushed monopoly

Business transactions in the media in the past week have been the source of much speculation in political discussions. Yet, paradoxically, this is not true of those whose job it is to be wondering what is going on.The country’s political leaders seem to be indifferent. It is as if there are no laws that need to be imposed, as if transparency of ownership and monitoring of media monopolies are not issues that have concerned the Greek state for decades. For instance, 25 percent of a major media firm was recently transferred to one of the firm’s senior editorial executives for a high price. Everyone is asking whether that executive is a journalist or a businessman, if he himself paid for the shares and, if so, where he got the money. People also want to know if other, unseen shareholders are behind him. Television executives have also bought shares in rival television networks. No one has inquired if this has resulted in a monopoly of media ownership, which is forbidden by law, while political officials hired to uphold the law seem indifferent. No officials seem to be asking the most important, troubling questions. None of them seem bothered that moves such as this lead to a lack of transparency in media ownership, or of pluralism, which the laws on business monopolies attempt to ensure. Also, no one seems to care that information is public and should be protected, even though financial interests in the media are private. The result is embarrassment for the media and the public belief that «major interests» stifle facts. If people no longer know who owns the media, or which alliances are behind various firms, how can anyone deal with this general suspicion? Once more, one arrives at the bitter conclusion that in Greece the implementation of laws is stymied by undeclared, underground, interests. How else should we interpret the fact that political leaders who struggled to introduce strict provisions regarding «main shareholders» in firms simply linked to the media sector have no control over transparency in shared transactions within the media itself? The public has every reason to believe that if the political world is unable to act, then the justice system might be able to intervene to ensure the law is imposed.