An scandalous issue that has recently shaken government, opposition parties and media in Greece may soon come to an end. State Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis said on Tuesday said that all the amounts concerning the allocation of 20 million euros in funds to the media will be probably made public this week.
The funds were allocated to the media to post and upload banners of the campaign “We stay at home” at the peak of the coronavirus in Greece in April.
However, some of the money, that is “generous amounts” were allegedly given to websites with only one post, websites that had halted their operation long ago or not existing ones, as some media reported. At the same time some publishers have reportedly received huge amounts of less than one million euros, while others with good circulation receive less or even not at all.
Suspicion was high that the funds were allocated mostly to media supporting the government and less or not at all to media being openly critical to the government.
The allocation was apparently not based on criteria when it comes to funding and advertising in the sector with criteria being mostly “number of visitors and page views” and other SEO data for websites and readership for printed and other media.
Following pressure by opposition parties and bombardment by internet users on social media, the government published the list of all media that had received funds, however, without releasing the amount each publisher received.
A few media disclosed the funds they received, the majority did not.
Scenarios started circulating on social media, claiming that some media groups had received up to 500,000 to 800,000 euros.
Initially the government, that is the government put the blame for any inconvenience on the company, that is the media shop, assigned with the distribution of the funds.
Later, government spokesman, Stelios Petsas claimed that one of the media that did not receive funds, precisely documentonews, was “spreading fake news about the coronavirus.” That was a fake news created during a live press conference by himself the government spokesman.
A new storm of reactions followed, and the government saw itself obliged to finally publish the list after main opposition party SYRIZA submitted a relevant question to the Parliament, asking detailed information about the distribution to tax payers’ money for a government campaign in public interest.
What is interesting is that Gerapetritis told the Parliament committee on Tuesday, that the data are being processed and that the list will be published once the process is concluded.
“The time delay in [the data] publication is due to the fact that the finance ministry is processing all the disbursements and, once this process is completed, there will be an immediate announcement,” the state minister said.
But what kind of procession?
It should be noted that only a few mainstream media that received funds criticized the government for not publishing the exacta mounts each company received. Among these media was kathimerini in an editorial last week and the media247 publishing group. They both demanded a clear word: transparency.
The issue has made it also to UK’s daily the guardian.