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The chapter examines the state of public service broadcasting in Greece. While most Southern European public broadcasting systems are to some degree subject to political influence and dependence, in the case of Greece, public broadcaster ERT is, after four decades of deregulation and the break-up of its broadcasting monopoly, still considered by many as ‘state’ rather than a ‘public’ broadcaster. This wide public perception stems from ERT’s one-time role as a mouthpiece of government propaganda. As both radio and TV broadcasting were launched under dictatorships (the late 1930s Metaxas dictatorship and the mid-1960s Colonels rule respectively), they have been regarded as ‘arms of the state.’ Post-dictatorship politics and the restoration of Parliament in 1974 saw the Conservatives (New Democracy) and Socialists (PASOK) dominating the political scene, accusing each other of exercising too much government control over state broadcasting media. Today’s left-wing SYRIZA government also attempts to influence ERT’s output, which is at odds with the digital, deregulated electronic media landscape and consequent abundance of channels. This situation has arisen largely from the political tensions in Greek society since the Second World War. These tensions, combined with the absence of a strong civil society and the market, have made the state an autonomous and dominant factor in Greek society that has to take on additional politico-ideological function. The state plays an active role in the formation of the Greek economy and policy and it is relatively autonomous from society. This makes the system less self-regulatory than countries with developed capitalism, such as northern EU states, Britain or the US. Lack of self-regulation spurs the state to intervene in the politico-ideological sphere and thus diffuse its repressive mechanisms. It is in this context that the chapter explains the rise of power of the media, and the decline of power of journalists and, of course, of ERT itself.
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- Greek ERT: State or Public Service Broadcaster?