OPINION

Negligence or self-interest?

«We shall clean up the airwaves by the end of 2002,» the government spokesman said, and it is certain that both he and other government officials feel that we ought to thank them warmly and praise them for their benevolent intentions. Had the present government been elected just six months ago or, even, a couple of years ago and had thus inherited «havoc» from its predecessors, then we could perhaps accept that it has a very small share of responsibility for the debasement of a domain whose legality it now intends to restore. But the PASOK party has been in power, almost uninterrupted, for 20 years. And although its leaders pretend to have been taken aback, all of the recent events actually happened with their encouragement and under their wing. Promising a significantly belated set of measures against violations of the code of ethics, government officials essentially – even unconsciously – admit that they allowed (and also by taking advantage of the opposition’s consent) private television to grow too large without restricting it to a respect of basic legal principles. The establishment which was set up in 1989, when the «ecumenical» government distributed the airwaves with a light heart and a calculating mind, has sarcastically come to be known as «free television.» This implies that it is entitled to act independently of any moral, aesthetic or political principle. The country’s political leadership has, for years, confined itself to the role of the happy spectator. Is it negligence or self-interest which led the political elite in government to undermine the monitoring institutions which it, itself, inaugurated? Is it negligence or self-interest which allowed the corrosion of society and marginalization of politics? The new attempt to purge the airwaves of unethical elements is doomed to have the same fate as previous ones. Since the only legal power, the political one, has surrendered a great share of its competence to several unaccountable mechanisms, it ought to know that it would, sooner or later, end up subject to them. Now, it would take 10 men like Hercules to clean up the airwaves. And we haven’t got even half of one.