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Cyprus

CyBC hits back at wasteful claims

THE leadership of the state broadcaster (CyBC) yesterday hit back at the notion that it is a wasteful organisation, complaining also that pot shots directed at it are unfair.

During a press conference held to review the last four years of the broadcaster’s operations, CyBC board chairman Makis Symeou said the organisation has upgraded its product despite shrinking budgets.

Meanwhile its production rate has risen to 90 per cent, Symeou said. The figures alone, he noted, prove that the organisation has successfully cut costs and set its house in order.
“Over the past four years we have created more with less money,” he said.

Symeou added that for the first time in decades CyBC has formulated and is implementing a five-year plan – submitted to parliament – with clear and measurable annual targets.

The CyBC chief said that overtime work has been all but eliminated, and all staff are employed on clear-cut contracts specifying their salaries and benefits.

Vice-chairman of the board Maria Vasiliadou wondered why the state broadcaster was being singled out when poor governance can be found throughout the broader public sector.

It’s understood she was alluding to political attacks launched against CyBC – one being a proposal by the ruling DISY party seeking to deprive the state broadcaster from carrying advertisements.

Despite improvements in recent years, Vasiliadou acknowledged that CyBC still needs further consolidation and transparency.

“CyBC is a reflection of our image, and if we want to change it we must all change ourselves,” she concluded.

A great chunk of CyBC’s budget comes out of the taxpayer’s pockets, as highlighted by the auditor-general in her 2011 annual report.

In 2010, the broadcaster’s budget came to €42.6 million, with the state subsidy at €37.8m; in 2011 the budget dropped slightly to €41.4m, with the subsidy totaling €30.1m.
CyBC’s budget for 2013 has been slashed to around €34m.

In her report, the auditor-general said the CyBC bypassed a hiring freeze by employing freelancers on open-ended contracts, in contravention of legal regulations.

During 2011 the semi-governmental organisation employed a total of 666 freelancers (700 the previous year), of whom 300 were under open-ended contracts and 20 under special contracts.

The ratio of freelancers to permanent full-time staff was 220 per cent in 2011, 225 per cent a year earlier.

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