In Greece, the print media, TV broadcasters and multi-media services are owned by a handful of entrepreneurs. Many outlets have close ties to the conservative Nea Dimokratia government which has been in power since July 2019.
His media company Alter Ego bought the debt-ridden media group Dimosiografikos Organismos Lampraki (DOL) in 2017. With this move he became the owner of the long-established daily Ta Nea, the Sunday paper To Vima and one of the largest news websites in Greece, in.gr. He also owns shares in Argos, the only Greek press distribution agency. This company has come under the scrutiny of the Hellenic Competition Commission and the EU Commission due to allegedly unfair trading practices.
In the summer of 2019 Marinakis also became the owner of one of the seven licences for private TV stations that were auctioned off by the Greek National Council for Radio and Television in 2018. The auction was held after the leftist government of Alexis Tsipras passed a law aimed at reforming the media landscape in 2015 and decided to re-allocate the TV broadcasting licences. The private television stations had been broadcasting without a proper licence ever since they were first founded in the 1980s; their "provisional" licences had simply been renewed again and again without competition proceedings. In autumn 2019, Alter Ego was awarded the audiovisual archive and logo of Mega TV, Greece's first private television station, which discontinued broadcasting in 2018 but resumed it in February 2020. Most of the other TV stations are controlled by oligarchs who already operated TV stations in the past, including the Vardinogiannis clan, which has continued to expand in the media business and now owns shares in Alpha TV and Star TV.
Greece’s print market was particularly hard hit by the prolonged financial crisis. Newspaper sales dropped sharply and several papers were forced to shut down. Hundreds of journalists lost their jobs and salaries were cut. The coronavirus has now had a severe impact on advertising revenues, and hundreds of sales points were closed during the lockdown. Several print media are struggling to survive despite financial aid from the government. At the same time, the viewer numbers of the leading TV channels have risen significantly.
Alternative independent media continue to play a key role in Greece, whereas public trust in the traditional media is steadily declining because many of them are subject to political influence and corporate interests. The Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) is under the influence of the government, and also in the case of many private media outlets it is easy to identify which political party they support. This explains why only 22 percent of the respondents in a Eurobarometer survey carried out in Greece in 2017 said they see the TV broadcasters as a credible source of information – the lowest figure in all Europe. And only 33 percent said they trusted the press.
Greece slid a long way down in the press freedom ranking lists during the debt crisis. Between 2009 and 2014 the country dropped 56 places in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index. Its ranking has improved markedly in recent years, but Greece still cuts a poor figure in comparison to other EU member states.
World Press Freedom Index (Reporters Without Borders): Rank 65 (2020)
Last updated: April 2020