Cutting the deficit part 1: the Eurovision song contest

While the rest of the planet thinks that we are all killing ourselves on the streets of Athens, as Google Insights demonstrates, over the past 90 days, what is really on our minds is the Eurovision song contest!  Yes, Greece tops the entire planet in Google searching interest for the word “eurovision” with a score of 100, followed by Spain (only 60), Roumania (57) and Turkey (50).

This is ironic for various reasons.  Not least of which is that ERT, the national broadcaster is the most prominent example of government waste.   Over the years it has simply collected civil servants of all description and many with no descriptions.  Anyone who has visited the main building (of course there are many) can easily bring to mind images of Kafkaesque depth.  Even the corridors are filled with desks and drawers, thus creating makeshift “offices” and a real maze to navigate.

It is an obvious cost to cut first.  The national broadcaster offers absolutely nothing in terms of increasing productivity.   It is a pure cost centre.  It’s educational role has been shrinking steadily as it sought to emulate private television more and more thus destroying any sense of social responsibility it may have had.  It has advertising.   The programmes it sponsors are usually commissioned on a political basis, so the quality is terrible.  Private channels have taken over even on the documentary front where ERT used to prize itself.  And it gets revenue from a fee attached to the electricity bill, a system even worse than the BBC license fee.

Yet of course nobody mentions this possibility of such a cost cutting exercise.   I think that it is the ideal symbolic move (almost on par with asking the prime minister to get himself a girlfriend!) to give everyone a clear message about how desperate the situation really is.  But they are all obviously too busy preparing for the song contest…


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