Media law motives

During his spell in opposition as well as the early period in government, Costas Karamanlis took aim at the so-called «entangled interests» of the wealth-media-power triangle. And not without good reason. Corruption is not just an ethical problem. It distorts free market and democratic principles. Legislation on the «main shareholder» was aimed at blocking legal loopholes. But then the European Commission ruled that the law was incompatible with EU legislation, forcing the government into a hasty retreat. The problem was not that it had tried to curb corruption, but the way in which it endeavored to do so. After that kick in the teeth, Karamanlis shelved all anti-graft plans. The new bill drafted by Theodoros Roussopoulos largely satisfies media owners but at the same time leaves strong cards in the government’s hand. It creates expectations while maintaining the present status quo. In other words, it smacks of the same opportunism that characterizes all previous efforts since 1989. Moreover, the bill contains tailor-made provisions and allows a greater degree of concentration than the existing framework. Above all, it legitimizes the control of media by business groups transacting with the state. Politically, the bill goes contrary to the will of Karamanlis, as stated publicly before the 2004 elections. Roussopoulos is undoubtedly playing his own political game, but he is not alone in this. One suspects that the premier’s intentions have changed. His verbal attacks against the «pimps» milking the country’s interests were made when he was being targeted by Socialist-aligned media. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since. Political power is as mesmerizing as Circe – the conservatives gradually built bridges with specific media. Judging by events, one may wonder whether Karamanlis has declared war on the «entangled interests» because they had targeted him or as a matter of principle.

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