Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist Opinion

ERT’s profligacy pales in comparison to CyBC’s

By Loucas Charalambous

THE BIZARRE story of Greece’s public broadcaster ERT gave the opportunity to the spoilt employees of CyBC to show their true character. They stopped everything they were doing in order to give their support to the ‘struggle’ of their colleagues.
They even adopted the full range of nonsensical slogans being used in Greece. We heard that democracy was supposedly under threat, that ERT was the ‘voice of Hellenism’ (even if it was watched by only 2.5 per cent of Greeks) and other such nonsense. Patriotism remains the last refuge of every scoundrel and of course the scoundrels of the CyBC could not be the exception.
Interestingly, the ERT hysteria coincided with the publication of a report by the auditor-general who once again exposed the shenanigans taking place at CyBC.
A friend, who previously worked at the embassy of a European country, recently told me a story which gave a good illustration of how the CyBC operated. He had called an employee at the CyBC to inform her that he had prepared a video that had been requested by the corporation.
The response of the CyBC employee was: ‘Let me see if I have a car available; fortunately there is one… Let me see if there is a driver; yes, I have a driver. Let me check if there is a worker. Oh… unfortunately Mr, I have no worker to send.’
The astonished man asked: ‘As you have a car and a driver, why do you need a worker? I will give the video to the driver.’
She explained that this was not how things worked at CyBC: ‘But Mr, it is not the job of the driver to bring the video – that is the job of the worker. Hold on to it and when I find a worker I will send him to you.’
This is the absurdity that prevails at the CyBC and these are the scoundrels who are now peddling us patriotism and civilisation.
Let us also take a look at the corporation’s operating costs which are insane. Consider that ERT costs every household in Greec €50 per year. You will not believe what the CyBC costs the Cypriot household. I had the patience to make a calculation based on the figures for seven years, from 2005 to 2011. In these seven years, the total subsidies taken by the CyBC from the state amounted to €211,582,619.
In the case of ERT the €50 per household is the final cost and the monthly instalment is included in a house’s electricity bill. In our case, the average annual cost of €30.2 million is paid through loans. In other words, interest has to be paid on the amount as it is part of the public debt.
Let us assume that everything will go according to plan with regard to the MoU and the loan from the troika will be paid off by 2053. Assume also that the public debt of €16bn will also be paid off by then.
This means that by then the state subsidy to the CyBC, of just these seven years, would have cost us, with interest €697,129,512. This comes to €569 per year for every household.
But the lunacy does not end here. At the end of 2011, the corporation had an accumulated deficit of €68.7m while the deficit in the staff pension fund stood at €93.6m. These would also be paid for by the state. If we add these amounts to those of the seven years, the total by 2053 would be an astronomical €1.2bn.
In other words, the real, final cost for financing of the CyBC for seven years, plus its deficits up to 2011 would be bigger that the budget deficit of Cyprus in 2012. The cost per household comes to €6,907, which is the annual salary or annual pension for tens of thousands of people. And this would be the case if we paid off the loan by 2053.
These few numbers perfectly illustrate the reasons why we bankrupted the state. With the political demagogues, who created the all-devouring monsters like the CyBC and other SGOs, still deciding our fate, the only solution for a prudent Cypriot would be to follow the example being set by many young people – emigrate.

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