ATHENS – Greece’s state broadcasting network ERT, reinstated four years ago by Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, shelved its nightly news program on June 10 to show his kick-off rally ahead of the July 7 snap polls he called.
That led to immediate criticism of favoritism by the state-backed, state-funded network which set aside news coverage to give Tsipras prime-time air time, leading the station management to later apologize for the decision.
The major opposition New Democracy, leading by 7.7 percent in the most recent survey, and other political groups and social media users blistered ERT for the decision to show off the country’s ruler instead of providing news, including what Conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis was doing as he campaigns.
ERT has already been charged with being a thinly-disguised government supporter, depending on state funds, leaving it open to criticism it won’t show negative coverage of Tsipras or his party.
“Mr. Tsipras and four to five ministers today (June 10) attempted, in a nationwide broadcast, to persuade the Greek people that for the past four-and-a-half years they lived in another country. The fact that the main ERT newscast, instead of the day’s news, showed all of SYRIZA’s campaign event will be remembered as a monument of journalistic shame for the public television,” New Democracy said in a statement.
Falling out of favor for reneging on anti-austerity promises for four years, Tsipras used the event to promise Greeks he’d create 500,000 new jobs, attract investors and reverse austerity measures he imposed, but only if he’s re-elected.