ATHENS – SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance has “managed its finances well, does not owe a single euro to banks or anywhere else,” the main opposition party said on Wednesday, responding to comments about Avgi newspaper’s end of publication in paper format.
SYRIZA sources castigated what they described as comments of glee by government-friendly media at the historic leftist newspaper’s financial difficulties. Plans call for Avgi to continue to publish its online version and focus on printing its weekend (Sunday) edition in paper, party sources said.
The sources said that unlike government-friendly media, “which have been surviving on every sort of favoritism lists, underhanded funding, and unsecured bank loans – which are occasionally written off by governmental interventions” end end up burdening taxpayers, Syriza “has been trying for years now to improve the economic state of Avghi, which along with the Sto Kokkino radio station absorb 72% of the state party subsidy to Syriza-Progressive Alliance.”
In explaining the situation, the party sources said that, according to certified accountants’ reports, Avghi had essentially defaulted in 2018 and was relying on Syriza to survive, “absorbing 2 million euros annually, with constantly reduced advertising revenue, while things took a worse downturn during the last two years of the pandemic.”
They cited also the steep rise in printing paper as of January 1, 2022, the drop in revenues overall, and the disappointing response to “an extremely generous plan of voluntary redundancy for employees at Avgi, that called for the immediate payment of 28 months worth of salaries and full payment of any older outstanding debts.”
However, Syriza’s sources said, only 14 employees signed on for the severance plan, which was not enough, and which raised the risk of the daily newspaper’s full shutdown. Alternatively, they said, the party leadership and the newspaper’s board of directors will be forced to consider the option of temporarily suspending the publication of the daily issue.
“Maintaining and boosting Avgi’s voice, especially in the complex and dystopian media environment established by the Mitsotakis government, is not just an issue of historicity, but one of democracy as well,” the party sources noted.