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Eleftherotypia Eyes Shutdown, Alter TV Off the Air

ATHENS – The economic crisis is taking a big bite out of Greece’s media, with the unpaid staff of the country’s second-biggest selling newspaper Eleftherotypia launching indefinite 48-hour rolling strikes after news broke that the paper may file for bankruptcy, while unpaid employees at Alter TV have been occupying the station for weeks, keeping it off the air. A statement from protest organizers at Eleftherotypia issued a statement claiming that,  “The newspaper which plays a leading role in challenging the country’s political and financial establishment, has left its workers unpaid since August,” decrying the irony.  “Eleftherotypia has survived since August, thanks to the dedication of its employees who continued to work conscientiously and produce the newspaper, valuing the relationship with readers.” Striking workers stopped updating the newspaper’s website early on Dec. 22.
The country’s news media has been severely affected by the country’s financial crisis, with a decline in advertising, readership and loan availability from banks leading to closures and steep salary cuts. Unpaid workers at private Alter television have kept programs off the air since Dec.  2, while news programs on public television and radio have been disrupted for weeks by strikes and stoppages.
Founded in 1975, Eleftherotypia sells more papers than any other newspaper in the country apart from Athens daily Ta Nea. The problems at Eleftherotypia were a long time coming. In October, the paper’s workers met after being informed that management had failed to secure an 8-milion euro ($14.3 million) loan. The debt-ridden newspaper, in print since 1975, had been in talks with lenders over the last few months to secure funding to keep the publication in print.. Breaking the trend of Greek press, Eleftherotypia was originally owned by its journalists. It was eventually taken over by the Tegopoulos brothers, and is now published by businessman Thanasis Tegopoulos, retaining its traditional socialist domestic and international stance.
Eleftherotypia editors often adopt a social-democratic stance on a number of issues, but more radical viewpoints are also frequently represented in the paper, and the paper is often supportive of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party, although it has also criticized the party during its time in office.
In April 1977, the terrorist group 17 November (17N) sent a manifesto to Eleftherotypia because it said the newspaper respected Leftists even while occasionally criticizing them. After that, the paper became the group’s media of choice as it carried out years of terrorism. The newspaper became known for its policy of publishing the proclamations of such groups without criticism. Until 2002 it abstained from condemning terrorist attacks, including assassinations. In 2005, the Court of Appeals in Athens found the company owning the newspaper, the editor, and two workers guilty of slandering the Public Prosecutor of the trial of the 17 November group, District Attorney Christos Lambrou.  Earlier this year, Prosecutor Grigoris Peponis, who deals in financial investigations, began a probe into whether members of any banks were guilty of breach of faith by financing the television station knowing it was insolvent.

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