By Constantinos Psillides
CyBC needs to be restructured and the public employee mentality discarded said Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos yesterday.
In a speech read out on behalf of the minister by official Constantinos Nicolaidis at an event regarding the public broadcaster’s restructuring, Hasikos said that CyBC should operate without interference from anyone with only the public’s interests in mind. “The CyBC we want is a matter that concerns everyone and it’s one of my ministry’s highest priorities,” the minister said.
Hasikos’ methods of dealing with CyBC have been headlining the news for the past week, following the resignation of former acting head Grigoris Malliotis. Both Malliotis and Hasikos attended a House Interior Committee on Thursday that dealt with CyBC’s coverage of political parties.
Malliotis revealed that he resigned so he would not have to fire employees, an inevitable development according to him, due to ministry slashing the broadcaster’s budget by €300,000 on March 19 to punish CyBC officials for the delay in submitting it, and for “overestimating their ad revenue” in order to present ‘a balanced budget’.
But that was not all. “I had reports and complaints from reporters and staff saying that people tried to interfere with their work. I strongly believe in journalistic neutrality and independence and I won’t abide any interference so I resigned,” he said.
Yiannis Kareklas, head of CyBC’s news department supported Malliotis, saying that he has in his possession a record of everyone who tried to influence CyBC reporters and staff in the past. “Not one political party is excluded,” he said.
Kareklas admitted that mistakes happened from time to time but none of them were deliberate. “I challenge MPs to work with one of the universities and monitor air time allotted to each party for three months. There are no patrons for CyBC,” he said, adding that in the past journalists were targeted by politicians.
CyBC’s chairman Giorgos Tasalakos refuted the claims, saying in a written statement that the House meeting was a “bad performance that included allegations of interference and lack of objectivity. CyBC’s course to renewal is set and we will stay on course despite all the obstacles because that is what society and the people want,” he said.
Adding to his reasons for resigning, Malliotis said that a study for the future of the CyBC was commissioned without him knowing its mandate.
Hasikos responded to Malliotis’ comments regarding the study yesterday saying that it was an independent one aiming at presenting the broadcaster’s board with suggestions on effective restructuring.
The CyBC budget for 2014 is €30.5m, of which €24.3m is from state coffers. The budget is down 8.0 per cent or €3.48m from the previous year.
Tsalakos’ appointment as the chairman of CyBC by President Nicos Anastasiades in December caused some reaction, especially from opposition AKEL. AKEL strongly opposed the appointment as Tsalakos’ previous position was editor of daily Alithia, which fiercely opposed former president Demetris Christofias during his term.