It was in the 70s, when television sets entered every Greek house: there was one in every living room, quite often with a doily on top (which might be hiding 1/3 of the screen but was part of mother’s dowry), and the channels were just two, both State-run – with one of them called Armed Forces Information Service (YENED).
In the 90s, the operation of private TV channels set entirely new standards for the relation of Greek audience with the well-liked appliance. New customs settled in the Greek household: comic TV-series with unforgettable scripts and lines (The Three Graces, Insufferables, Sinning Twice, Crimes, Dolce Vita, etc.), daring shows of harsh critique (that of Malvina Karali, the Mitsikostas one, Late with Nico Mastorakis, etc.), news broadcasts (where the presenter’s monologue became parallel monologues from multiple windows by several shouting personas trying to exterminate each other), pharaonic shows (who doesn’t remember Roula Koromila descending the stairs of the Town Hall of Syros to welcome Ricky Martin?), reality shows of imprisoned borderline Neo-Greeks, as well as gossipy shows of panelists who could talk for hours on end (about absolutely nothing), trying to squeeze milk out of the showbiz’s cow in order to fill the two-hour duration of the show.
And now we’ve reached the 10s. The profound financial and social crisis has left its indelible marks on Greek TV: TV-series struggle to have one memorable line per episode within mannerism hysterics of so-called reproduction of classic modern Greek society stereotypes (the married man’s girlfriend, the shrieking gay, the randomly natural 6-pack, etc.). Turkish TV-series are flooding once upon a time dignified channels with honor killings. The hundredth re-runs of 90s TV-series are promoted as “vintage”. The news have ended up a constant reproduction of terror propaganda (no memorandum, no life). The lowest form of gossip and the ever-present sauté onion anxiously fill up TV-time. Cannibalistic teams of reporters go for each other’s throat, trying to get a piece of the shrinking commercial pie. And whichever good movies are transmitted as intervals for commercials (instead of the other way around).
It would be irrational not to expect Greek TV to be influenced by the financial crisis. However, it is possible that the crisis of Greek TV is irreversible – especially if we take into account the hecatomb of TV victims that the internet has in reserve. This flexible, fast and completely client-oriented means will probably be the gravestone of television. You have whatever (TV programs included) you want, at the precise moment you want it, without commercial breaks; on the couch, in the kitchen, on your mobile or tablet. Why wait for Olga Tremi to bid you good evening in order to find out what happened around the globe today? It is no accident that research findings suggest that TV audiences keep aging, leaving the younger generations to the internet.
This evolution, like any form of evolution, is not good or bad in itself. The succession of television by the internet in people’s preference will be judged by future historians based on the result. However, if we are to make a prediction, based on the succession of radio by the television in said preference, the future probably looks bleak. The illusion of freedom that the internet provides can easily be replaced by easy mass manipulation (yesterday the focus was Varoufakis, today the focus is Yakoumakis, and so on), which will be dangerous as long as it remains latent and will be served with chocolate on top – in the form of the so-called free-willed click of the user.
Does this mean that individual freedom passes through regression? Of course not. There is still hope. Regarding the notion that TV programs are not dissipated on the internet, in the hope that they will be saved by surrendering to the most secure of its enemies, only quality and multi-thematics, fantasy and getting rid of profit-angst creativity can guarantee a dignified survival for television. If nothing else – apart from the historical revanchism of a time when both values could survive – it serves a certain purpose: the need not to surrender the (gradually growing) older part of the population to the trash can of re-runs and talking about nothing.