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Parliament approved revised Cybc budget

Parliament on Friday approved the revised state broadcaster (Cybc) budget a week after MPs rejected it, sparking a public debate concerning the quality of its programmes.

The budget was passed with 32 in favour, 10 against and one abstention. It was reduced by €400,000 to €32.8m.

The government has also prohibited the broadcaster from selling advertising time, barring certain cases.

Ruling Disy, which joined opposition Diko in rejecting the bill last week, argued that its decision forced actions to put things straight.

MP Onoufrios Koullas said upgrading quality was the key, rejecting suggestions that the party was seeking preferential treatment.

Koullas said seeking advertising did not help the Cybc, adding that “it is better to give something more and have a better and distinctly different mission.

He also sought to dispel claims that the advertising ban aimed at helping private television stations, saying it was not certain the around €2.5m would be diverted there.

Akel said people were witnessing “a theatre of the absurd” and a monument of irresponsibility on behalf of the ruling party, which rejected a budget submitted by the interior ministry of their government.

Giorgos Loukaides, the party’s parliamentary spokesman suggested it was part of an effort to fully subjugate the Cybc and “serve big financial interests”.

He said the new budget would affect programming but Akel would vote in favour of the budget since not doing so would mean closure and the party did not want to have anything to do with dictatorial practices.

Diko chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos, who had been very vocal against the Cybc throughout the past week, criticized the amount of cash spent on payroll.

He said out of every five euros spent on salaries, Cybc spent one on programming, showing that “something is very wrong.”

He also noted that over €800,000 per year were paid to eight managers and €44,000 to eight researchers who worked on the Weakest Link.

Papadopoulos said his party would support public broadcasting provided it was independent and objective.

Earlier on Friday, Cybc chairman Andreas Frangos told MPs that rejection of the budget would mean immediate closure.

He said the broadcaster has pledged to work with the authorities to modernize and stamp out the irregularities of the past.

Frangos said they did not want to turn Cybc into the BBC but a public broadcaster for Cypriots, the voice of the island home and abroad.

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