By Constantinos Psillides
Ruling DISY chief Averof Neophytou has dismissed rumours that he is the politician behind censoring the successful comedy-satire show Patates Antinaxtes and that his party and censorship were not compatible.
During a news conference on Wednesday, following a meeting with the CyBC board on the future of the state broadcaster, the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reported that Neophytou addressed the rumour head-on, saying that neither he nor his party ever attempted to censor the content of any of the shows of CyBC, news, or otherwise.
“I am a politician who has been satirised more than anyone since the time satire made its appearance on Cypriot television. I, Averof Neophytou, ‘je suis Charlie for Cyprus, France and the whole world’. DISY and censorship are not compatible,” said the party boss, referencing the slogan adopted by supporters of free speech following the shooting at the French satirist newspaper Charlie Hebdo on January 7.
Neophytou was suspected by many to be the man behind an alleged attempt at censoring the show.
An anonymous letter published last week by people believed to be involved with the show claimed that a prominent politician, “who likes to operate in the shadows” was furious over the satire aimed at him and reached out to members of the CyBC board affiliated with his party to have one of the show’s producers removed.
The letter claimed that the successful show would leave CyBC next year and enter talks with a rival broadcaster.
But Head of Programming at CyBC Thanasis Tsokos issued a statement over the weekend denying accusations on censorship, claiming that there had been complaints about profanity on the show. He said ‘Patates’ would not be leaving the CyBC – which holds the rights – and was in fact going to be upgraded.
Commenting on his meeting with the CyBC board, Neophytou said both he and the public expected more from the state broadcaster, especially when it came to the news. “We want news focusing on facts both in Cyprus and the world presented through real news bulletins and not through a parade of government and party statements,” he said.
“We are sick of ‘statements’ that end-up reminding us of war-time bulletins. We expect impartiality, indepth analysis, innovation and the introduction of modern news coverage techniques,” said Neophytou.
CyBC head Giorgos Tsalakos said that the meeting was part of a series of meeting with stakeholders, aiming to introduce a series of reforms including a new organisational structure.
“I would like to thank the DISY chairman for his and his party’s innovative ideas. I assure you that we will take them into serious consideration and in March, when we have completed our meetings with the stakeholders, we will come to a decision as to what comes next for CyBC,” said Tsalakos.