Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

CyBC’s absurd, selective patriotism

Turkish Airlines fell foul of CyBC patriotism

ON JUNE 9 the CyBC announced a ‘national’ achievement. It decided not to show the adverts of Turkish Airlines (THY) during its broadcasting of the Euro football matches. THY was one of the main sponsors of Euro 2016 and as such it had a brief advert shown at half-time.

The president of the corporation’s board said: “The CyBC handled the whole matter with responsibility, professionalism, competence and in full co-operation with the relevant government authorities.” (By relevant authorities it meant the foreign ministry, which, as is well-known, is not better than the super-patriots of the CyBC).

It was another case that displayed our narrow-mindedness, but also our hypocrisy. Turkish Airlines is a company that does not fly from our airports and therefore does not expect us as its customers. The funny thing is that the spots cut by the great brains of the CyBC was only the five per cent of the advertising by THY, which is broadcast at half-time of each match. We are talking about a three-second spot. That is what was cut.

The bulk of the advertising/promotion, at least 95 per cent, is during the match from the lit-up hoardings on the perimeter of the football pitch. The hoardings advertising THY light up all the time during the match and the CyBC viewers cannot miss them. For some peculiar reason the patriotic sentiments of the CyBC president are not hurt by the 95 per cent of the THY advertising that is broadcast and the corporation sees no need to cut, confining itself to just cutting the five per cent.

Why has CyTA president not found a way to remove these from our screens as well? For example, he could ask the CyBC technicians to broadcast pictures only when the match is being played in the centre of the field where the THY adverts would not be seen. And he should not claim that this would have been ridiculous and made him the target of the viewers’ abuse. After all, missing half the match and the goals would have been a small sacrifice for not committing the treason of showing the THY advertising.

There is another thing as well. The CyBC showed all three matches of the Turkish national side without the patriotic sentiments of its chairman being hurt. Yet they would have been hurt by a three-second spot? If he were a true patriot, why did he not stop the matches of the “national side of the occupier” from being broadcast?

This story reminded me of another, equally stupid, patriotic initiative by the management of the CyBC back in 2004. It was during the Athens Olympic Games in August of that year, a time when the anti-American hysteria, created by then president Tassos Papadopoulos and his allies after the referendum, was still raging.

The CyBC, which was broadcasting the games all day long, would show all the medal-awarding ceremonies that were accompanied by the winner’s national anthem, except if an American had won the gold medal. If an American was the winner, the CyBC would cut the medal ceremony and broadcast adverts so its viewers would not have to listen to the US national anthem.

I was so disgusted that one Sunday afternoon I called the CyBC and asked to speak to the person in charge. I was told that the person to speak to was a certain lady, whose name and contact details I was given. I spoke to her rather angrily about what I had noticed. She told me that the transmission of the games was from ERT (Greek state TV) and the CyBC broadcast it in its entirety.

I knew she was lying so I called a friend who lived in Athens. His wife, who had been watching the Games on ERT, replied and assured me that the Greek broadcaster had never cut the American national anthem. I called back the stupid lady at the CyBC and told her she should have been ashamed of lying to me. Her response left me speechless. “Why, doesn’t America deserve what we are doing? ERT should also have been cutting the national anthem, considering everything America has done to Greece.”

A few weeks later I saw the then US ambassador at a public event and asked him if he had noticed the vile behaviour of the CyBC and whether the embassy had filed any complaint with the Cyprus government. He responded laughing: “No, no, we have not complained. Of course we noticed it, but you know something?  When you are a big country you laugh at the nonsense of small countries and forgive them.”

I do not forgive the smart-guy president of the CyBC, who thinks he is showing off his patriotism by picking on the advertising of a company “with responsibility, professionalism and competence”.  Nor do I forgive President Anastasiades who appointed him.

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