Greece | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Greece

Greece

Freedom of the Press 2008

2008 Scores

Press Status

Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

27

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

13

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

5

The Greek constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press. However, there are limits on speech that incites fear, violence, and disharmony among the population, as well as on publications that offend religious beliefs, are obscene, or advocate the violent overthrow of the political system. In 2007, the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), a nongovernmental organization that monitors compliance with the human rights provisions of the Helsinki Accords, brought two separate cases to court against media outlets that had allegedly expressed anti-Semitic or racist ideas. In the first of these two suits, GHM accused the extreme right-wing newspaper Eleftheros Kosmos of having publicly expressed ideas denigrating Jews. In cooperation with the Central Board of Jewish Communities, GHM brought its second suit against the same newspaper and Kostas Plevris, the former Popular Orthodox Rally party candidate and noted author, for racism and anti-Semitism. While the court convicted Plevris in December and sentenced him to a 14-month suspended prison term for inciting hatred and racial violence in his book, the newspaper was acquitted.

Supporters of a media bill currently being discussed in the parliament have been criticized for deliberately trying to hinder the development of media in the region and for trying to limit minority groups’ access to media. The proposed law states that the main transmission language of a radio station must be Greek in order for it to obtain an operating permit. It also requires that radio stations keep a certain amount of money in reserve as a guarantee, hire a minimum number of full-time staff, and broadcast programming 24 hours a day, all factors that would disproportionately hurt smaller, minority- or community-owned stations. Separately, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in July overturned the original ruling in a Greek court that journalists or radio program coordinators are liable for statements made on their radio shows by guest speakers. In doing so, the ECHR found that Greek law had been in violation of freedom of expression. The journalist in question was originally fined 41,000 Euros (US$63,000) by the Greek court. Also in 2007, the leader of a journalists’ union, Dimitris Trimis, was sent to jail in March for his union activities during a 2004 strike.

There are many independent newspapers and magazines, including a number that are critical of the government, and many broadcasters are privately owned. The media, both public and private, are largely free from government restrictions, but state-owned stations tend to report with a slight pro-government bias. However, politically sensitive issues—such as the status of Macedonians and other ethnic minorities in the country—still provoke government pressure and lead to self-censorship. Greek law places limits on ownership of broadcast frequencies, but broadcasting is largely unregulated, and many broadcast stations are not licensed. Use of the internet is not restricted by the government, though only 33 percent of the population accessed this medium in 2007, well below the level of most other developed European countries.