The deregulation of the broadcasting system in the mid-80s has been followed by a proliferation of both local and national privately-owned TV channels, accompanied also by rapid increase in print publications—both newspapers and magazines—out of proportion with the small size of the market.
The history of the media in Greece, as in many other countries, was influenced by heavy governmental control—control exercised not only be legislation but also by the provision of financial support. Governmental influence was also an important element because the press in Greece has historically been allied to political parties—to the extent that party leaders have sometimes also been the editors of their supportive newspapers.
During the seven-year dictatorship 1967-74, some newspapers closed down while those that survived were obliged to print what pleased the censorship and the surveillance of the military rulers.
The end of the dictatorship in 1974 saw the beginning of a trend away from the slavish adherence of the press to the interests of its political masters. And, as the heavily partisan press has faded, and with advertising now its crucial source of revenue, a market-oriented pres is now in the ascendant. Since the mid-80s, a handful of ship-owners and other entrepreneurs have emerged as Greece’s new press barons. The press still has its various political leanings; but its components function as enterprises rather than political voices.
Broadcasting in Greece also underwent enormous changes in the 80s. Instead of just two state-run TV channels and four state-run radio stations, the country now has 145 privately-owned TV channels alongside 1,200 privately-operated radio stations—many of them owned by publishing companies and other business-oriented interests. The result has been an increase in advertising, in imported programs, and in the diversity of political content.
Since the mid-90s, the state has sought to regulate the media in line with media’s own needs and in conformity with the EU rules provided by the Directive of Television Without Frontiers. These rules concern advertising time, program quotas, the protection of minors, and media ownership.
Considering the short time-span since its deregulation, the Greek media, while by no means without defects, may be judged to have evolved rapidly in adjusting to its new climate for its operations.