Greek Media Strike Over TV License Overhaul

Greek media showed their discontent with government plans to overhaul TV licensing regulations by holding a 24-hour strike on Friday.

The strike, which was called by the country’s largest journalist union, disrupted programming on private broadcasters and signaled growing discontent among the media with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ leftist government.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the union, known by its Greek acronym ESIEA, accused a bill introduced by Parliament this week of “aiming to turn journalists into civil servants” and threatening their independence.

The controversial bill, which will be debated in Parliament on Saturday, proposes new regulations that would enable the government to hold auctions for private broadcaster licenses next year.

Critics fear that the government’s licensing body would give it undue influence over the entrance of new private players into the market, with the former Deputy Prime Minister saying the bill opened the door for “unknown business interests” to exert their influence in a country where business and political interests already have a heavy hand in media.

Pubcaster ERT, which was meant to take part in the protest, continued to broadcast coverage of French President Francois Hollande’s two-day state visit during the strike, which is set to end at 6 a.m. on Saturday.

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