Greece drops 38 places in press freedom ranking
Greece has lost 38 places in the world ranking of press freedom according to the annual report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published on Tuesday.
Greece fell from 70th place in 2021 to 108th in 2022 and became the lowest-ranked country in the EU, according to the report.
RSF says that press freedom in Greece suffered serious setbacks in 2021 and 2022, with journalists routinely prevented from covering Covid-19 migration issues.
Additionally, the murder of veteran crime journalist Giorgos Karaivaz in April 2021 remains unsolved despite the government’s promise of a swift investigation, it adds.
The report notes that Greeks’ trust in the media has always been one of the lowest in Europe. This, he says, is due to the coexistence of a few large private groups like Skai alongside hundreds of online media outlets, which contributes to the highly fragmented media landscape.
The overwhelming majority of media is owned by a few individuals who are also active in other highly regulated industries. Moreover, some of them maintain close ties with the political elite. The press is therefore very politically polarized, says RSF.
Press freedom in Greece undermined by new penal code
He notes that recent amendments to the penal code – adopted under the pretext of combating the Covid-19 pandemic – allow a disproportionate restriction of freedom of the press on shaky legal bases.
Making the offense of spreading false information punishable by five years in prison goes against Greece’s international commitments and European legal standards represents a serious threat to the right of journalists to publish information of public interest and increases the risk of self-censorship, argues RSF.
The report also highlights what it calls a lack of transparency in public funding of the media and notes that police routinely use violence and arbitrary bans to hamper journalistic coverage of protests and the refugee crisis on the islands.
He adds that a Dutch journalist had to leave the country for her own safety after she was assaulted in the street following a smear campaign by pro-government media for her heated exchange with the Prime Minister over the pushbacks of migrants.