By Constantinos Psillides
State broadcaster CyBC has dismissed reports saying that successful comedy show ‘Patates Antinanxtes’ would be cancelled, adding in fact it planned to invest more money in the popular show.
A statement from CyBC Programming Committee chairman Thanasis Tsokos came after reports suggested some board members had tried to censor the show on behalf of a prominent politician who thought satirical sketches poking fun at him were hurting his public image.
As a semi-government organisation, the CyBC board is appointed by the President.
The reports originated from a letter believed to have been written by someone involved in the show. It was signed ‘The Free Voice of Patates’ and made public on Friday. The letter addressed the removal of one of the show’s long-time producers, Alexia Moutafidou.
Moutafidou, according to an older statement by the state broadcaster, was removed from the show to address “falling standards”, “low quality programming” and “use of profanity.” The anonymous letter released on Friday said the descriptions were excuses to cover up the real reason behind what was described as a “ruthless, four-month underground war against the show”.
The letter’s author claimed that the real reason was that board members and upper management were approached by the prominent politician and asked to tone down the criticism.
“There was no attempt made to interfere or censor the show by either the management or a board member,” said Tsokos’ statement.
He clarified that whatever recommendations were made to the show’s producers reflected complaints made to the broadcasting authority by organised groups and parents “complaints that could not be left unaddressed” said Tsokos.
He went so far as to call the anonymous letter an “assault on democracy, purposefully filled with lies and inaccuracies.”
Tsokos said that CyBC owns the rights to the show and that management planmed to invest more money in it next year. That was also a response to the anonymous letter, which had implied that the show would enter talks with a different broadcaster.
Neither the show’s producer nor the production studio behind ‘Patates Antinaxtes’ commented on Tsokos’ statement.
The show, which scored high ratings over the past 10 years, has been mainly been built around skits, fake news and outtakes of political statements made on camera. The main focus was satirising politicians and commenting on contemporary issues.