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Cyprus

CyBC president fails to dampen interference claims

Amid a storm of protests, CyBC president Michalis Michail on Wednesday attributed a decision to scrap the participation of an Edek MP on a current affairs show to an ‘internal misunderstanding’, but failed to appease critics.

The state-owned corporation came under fire from both the left and the right.

Disy vice president Nicos Tornaritis asked for a disciplinary investigation by CyBC and fellow Disy MP Demetris Demetriou said that in view of the incident, the House institutions committee which he chairs would at its next session discuss the role of the public broadcaster.

Across the political divide, Akel said it would be raising the matter in the House interior committee.

Cyprus Union of Journalists president Giorgos Frangos, who had on Tuesday refused to participate in a CyBC discussion on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day in protest, castigated the corporation for its actions.

And CyBC staff union Sytirik voiced full support for Finikarides and condemned any intervention in journalists’ work.

The issue arose last Friday when MP Costis Efstathiou, who has taken a critical stand against embattled Edek president Marinos Sizopoulos ahead of a surprise party conference, was first invited and then disinvited from CyBC’s current affairs lunchtime programme Apo Mera se Mera.

Presenter and journalist Dinos Finikarides promptly resigned from the programme amid media reports that a senior CyBC official had intervened.

As political parties demanded an explanation, the broadcaster’s president denied political motivations were to blame and spoke of a misunderstanding between the host of the programme and CyBC’s head of news.

Michail told Alpha TV that both the host and the news editor had wanted to give Efstathiou airtime, that there had been ‘mistaken communication’ between the two and that the MP had been a guest on Monday.

Finikarides had tendered his resignation from the show because the head of news had intervened, Michail added.

Moreover, speaking on the CyBC’s lunchtime programme on Wednesday, Michail said that there was no meddling at the broadcaster, with journalists there free to do their work as they saw fit.

“CyBC does not accept interventions from anyone. It has its department heads, its journalists who are the best on the market,” he said.

For his part, journalists’ union president Frangos said this was not an isolated incident, but a phenomenon that every so often comes to light. As examples he cited Elita Michaelidou’s show which could not host journalist Makarios Droushiotis — who had written a critical book of the government’s handling of the 2013 bailout agreement – and attempts to control Andreas Yiortsos’ satirical programme.

Frangos said Michail’s explanation was understandable but not credible.

 

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