CYPRUS: Watch CyBC and become your grandparents

24 March, 2019 | Posted By: Charlie Charalambous

Watching TV is rather old school and so last century that it’s a wonder of a modern society that Cyprus broadcasters are actually surviving on a wilderness diet of sitcom dross, talk show apathy, narcissistic reality TV and movies that went straight to video.

What Cyprus TV does not offer is quality programming like homemade documentaries that give people a voice, cultural diversity that reflects the changing society we are living in or any kind of meaning platform for alternative opinions/entertainment.

Rare are the programmes or series that engage the nation or become popular talking points where it becomes a topic of conversation wherever people interact.

There is also a generational gap – how many teenagers or people under the age of say 30, watch terrestrial Cyprus TV?

None of my kids does and I would believe there was something seriously wrong with them if I caught them watching a badly dubbed soap opera or one those Cypriot period dramas where everyone stares at each other to signal a serious event is going down.

Subjecting anyone to local schedules over a long period of time (more than five minutes) would be a particularly nasty kind of torture that would certainly be in violation of the UN war crimes convention.

If you were restricted to receiving knowledge and insight only from Cypriot television – maybe this could be the subject of a scientific experiment – then slowly introduced back into society the real world would treat you like someone abandoned in the woods to live with wolves from a young age.

Granted, there are those who have only ever known Cypriot TV offerings and wouldn’t be without it on a cold winter’s night but the majority of us with more discerning tastes deserve a better quality of entertainment.

Cyprus broadcasters have also failed to embrace technology, challenge perceptions or think outside the box in their scheduling which is tired, unimaginative while lacking in personality and character.

Essentially terrestrial Cyprus TV is simply an excuse to squeeze in as many bad adds between formulaic fare that has no prime time for informative documentaries, arts & culture or educational programmes.

Seriously, local TV is on a hiding to nothing when you can watch Netflix and Amazon Prime video on the go wherever you are.

Although, if anyone is scared of losing their Cypriot identity under a wave of foreign influence switching on state-broadcaster CyBC will confuse you into thinking you have become your grandparents.

Over the past few weeks, there has been an existential debate about the future of the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation and what it should represent.

Quite rightly it has been told that it should no longer be mandated to espouse the views of every political party irrespective of news value or content.

It should be the job of CyBC to challenge what our politicians are doing and saying, not simply be a mouthpiece for their bickering and partisanship.

The corporation is no longer to earn revenue from advertising which compromised its independence in being a fearless exponent of the truth hiding in the shadows.

Why the government has suddenly decided that the dinosaur corporation now needs to radically evolve to make it more relevant as a standard-bearer for news, education and culture.

It’s all very well saying the CyBC needs to stand above the mediocrity of private TV rather than mimic it by chasing the ratings in providing populist fodder.

Another question to be raised is whether CyBC has the vision and the personnel to take it to a different place.

Disy leader Averof Neophytou accused CyBC of becoming a soap opera channel when the public broadcaster should set the bar much higher and model itself on the BBC when it comes to information, reliability, seriousness and promoting culture.

CyBC should not be shaped by commercial concerns but set new standards in quality by becoming relevant with its own voice, ready to reflect public opinion or fearlessly challenge the establishment where toadyism is rife.

For too long the broadcaster has been a bastion of party interference, a dysfunctional management structure making it far from an equal opportunities employer.

The way CyBC handles recruitment, promotions – there is a sorry lack of transparency - while operating a staff system that basically discriminates between employees also needs to be rectified.

There is a three-tier system where permanent staff enjoy the perks of public civil servants while others doing the same job do not enjoy the same benefits.

Sadly, the CyBC is yet another state organisation where excellence is killed at birth, to let its older sibling, mediocrity, succeed to the throne.

Like all pretenders to the crown, this monolith stuck in a time warp has pledged to set new standards in Cypriot journalism and TV programming…coming soon on Netflix.