The Greek media market is characterized by digital fragmentation, lack of trust in news and a politically polarized press, says a report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
The report says that longstanding political polarization was reflected again in the Greek media landscape in 2020. The news media were also badly affected by the pandemic, with TV advertising expenditures falling by 61% in 2020 compared to 2019.
It notes that during the first wave of COVID-19, the government’s decision to spend €20 million on a ‘stay at home’ advertising campaign was heavily criticized. Eventually, the campaign funded 1,232 news organizations, including 627 digital news websites, some of which were not legitimate news organizations, it adds.
The fact that 54% of Greek respondents opposed the government stepping in to help commercial news organizations that were unable to support themselves — one of the highest rates across 46 countries — may have been influenced by this controversy.
Controversy over Greek social media
The report highlights the controversy which erupted in March 2021 around the role of social media platforms in politics and the public sphere.
The Prime Minister at that time called social media a ‘threat to democracy’, addressing the toxic nature of public debates and the levels of misinformation on social media. This was met with a strong backlash by the opposition and social media users, who accused the Prime Minister of attempting to criticize information gateways he cannot control.
The national television landscape in Greece was relatively stable last year after a long period of turmoil, including broadcaster closures and licensing disputes, the report notes.
One of the few changes was the relaunch of MEGA TV, for years the largest commercial broadcaster in Greece, after being shut down for 1.5 years because of financial difficulties.
The digital news market in Greece remains fragmented, the report says.
The average Digital News Report survey respondent in Greece uses more digital news sources per week than respondents from all other 46 countries in the sample, other than Kenya.
This finding highlights the casual and fragmented nature of digital news consumption in Greece. This may help explain the lack of an online news payment culture in Greece, with the exception of some niche outlets.
Changing Greek media
The report finds that, as in most other countries, trust in news increased, by four percentage points in Greece. Despite the increase, Greece is still well behind most other countries in this trust.
Smartphones are now far ahead of computers in terms of weekly use, with 70% and 55% respectively. More than two-thirds (69%) of Greeks online obtain their news via social media, a much higher share than most countries in the sample.