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Greece’s Historical Newspapers TA NEA, TO VIMA to close due to “economic reasons”

Dramatic developments in the Greek press with two historical newspapers forced to suspend their publications after banks frozen revenue accounts of Lambrakis Press Group (DOL) for non-performing loans. Daily TA NEA and Sunday newspaper TO VIMA, both owned by Lambrakis Press Group (DOL) will suspend their publication in the next days and put 500 work places are at risk in a labor sector sharply hit by the economic crisis.

In a main article “Who strangulate the press” posted on the front page of To Vima and its online edition, the writer announces that the two newspapers will “suspend their publication in the next days for “economic reasons.”

Blaming the four systemic Greek banks Alpha Bank, National Bank, Piraeus Bank and Eurobank , the author underlined “the creditor banks decided to freeze – and they froze – to their advantage towards the loans any revenues from the newspapers sales and from commercial advertisement. “

DOL therefore lacked any available resources needed for the newspapers printing as well as the smooth operation of the media it owns.

Blaming the banks, the government and the opposition parties, To Vima stressed that the closure of these two historical newspapers will not only lead 500 people to unemployment but also to “the degradation of the civil values of the postwar system and the collapse of  main fundamentals of Literature, Arts and Culture.”

And with them, of course, the government and the opposition that “hypocritically express their interest of rescuing newspapers” but they do not consent to an amendment that could temporarily solve the financial problem.”

To Vima and Ta Nea, the flagship newspapers of DOL have played a dominant role in Greek publishing and Greek politics ever since their establishment in 1922 and  1931 respectively.

To Vima, a newspaper considered to “bring governments up or down”, was originally a morning daily. DOL suspended the  daily edition in 2011 and was limited in Sunday edition only.

Ta Nea has been Greek’s best-selling newspaper for decades, although the circulation had been affected due to the availability of the internet and the financial crisis.

Both newspaper were close to Greece’s center-left and PASOK but switched to  support the bailout agreements and the political support of center-right and New Democracy.

The Lmbrakis Press Group came under the hands of journalist Stavros Phycharis after the death of founder Christos Lambrakis in 2009.

Next to To Vima and Ta NeaLambrakis Press Group also owns the news portal, radio station Vima Fm 99.5, the magazines MarieClaire, Cosmopolitan and Vita.

KTG understands that the international edition of To Vima online was suspended beginning of January.

It is not clear to which extend the banks actions will affect also the other media of DOL.

Workers at DOL have been unpaid for several months.

The DOL group had been under immense pressure by the banks for non-performing loans. A couple of days ago, businessman Iva Savvidis negotiated with the banks the rescue of DOL. Apparently the outcome was not positive for the once most powerful media group in Greece.

The loans of DOL to the banks are estimated to be 180 million euros, while the loans to employees, social security funds, suppliers etc are around 20 million euros. Managing director of DOL, Panagiotis Psycharis admitted in front of the Parliamentary Committee investigating bank loans to media groups and political parties that DOL was receiving loans with only collateral Psycharis’ signature.

On January 18th, authorities banned owner Psycharis from leaving the country, he is been investigated for a 48-million euro gap in his income and tax declaration after 2000 as wells as for loans taken without guaranties.

One of the (former?) journalist at To Vima, criticized in a Facebook post also the stance of the newspaper towards the banking system. “To Vima lost credibility idolizing a distorted banking system. Now this distortion swallowed the newspaper.”

The man at the kiosk around the corner told me that today it was the last time To Vima was at the kiosk.

Later on Sunday, some journalist at Ta Nea posted on social media that the newspaper will be published on Monday as usual.

Journalists and other staff are reportedly unpaid in the last five months.

Other Greek media groups are also at risk with padlock as the new bank managements appointed after the second bank recapitalization cannot but claim their loans back and proceed with painful measures.

PS If the banks seize accounts of small businesses and private persons for non-performing loans it is inevitable that the big companies are not excluded.

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One comment

  1. Too bad, I considered them to be good sources of information.
    Surely hope KTG does not have outstanding issues with banks…(well, we all have issues with banks one way or another but you know what I mean).