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Mega Channel ordered to shut down

Once a powerhouse of Greek television and the country’s first national private television broadcaster, the highly indebted Mega Channel may leave the airwaves for good. Its outstanding debts, however, may represent a ticking time bomb for the Greek banking system.

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In a decision publicized earlier today, Mega Channel, once Greece’s biggest and highest-rated station and the first national private television channel to begin broadcasting in Greece, breaking state broadcaster ERT’s monopoly in 1989, has been ordered to cease operations.
In a 6-3 decision reached by Greece’s National Committee for Radio and Television (ESR), Mega Channel was ordered to shut down. National digital television network operator DIGEA and the National Commission for Telecommunications and Post (EETT), the regulatory authority in charge of Greece’s audiovisual spectrum, will be informed of the decision and will be asked to remove Mega Channel’s signal from the airwaves.
While the heavily indebted Mega Channel is practically bankrupt and has barely been operational since September 2016, broadcasting a continuous cycle of reruns and movies with little to no live programming, the ESR’s decision is only indirectly related to the station’s financial woes.
According to the ESR decision, Mega Channel has for years operated as a news-based station, and never filed an application with the ESR to change its classification from a news-based to an entertainment-based station, despite not airing news or information programming since September 2016. Furthermore, Mega Channel did not submit an application for a nationwide television license in the ongoing tender for seven such licenses for news-based stations. As a result, the ESR ruled that Mega Channel is to terminate its operations.
Employees from Mega Channel, who have been unpaid for almost two years, have stated that they will file an appeal against the ESR’s decision. Employees have been attempting to keep the station afloat even as they themselves have been unpaid, in hopes (perhaps foolishly) of salvaging the station and their jobs.
Notably, in the cases of two other stations, Macedonia TV (m.) and ART, which currently broadcast nationwide and which did not apply for a license under the current tender for news-based stations, the ESR was more lenient. Macedonia TV, which never broadcast more than token news programming, has been allowed to continue broadcasting as an entertainment-based station, until such time as a new tender for licenses for entertainment-only stations is issued. ART, owned by the right-wing LAOS political party, received a license to broadcast in the Athens region in 1993 but later expanded nationwide. It will now revert back to broadcasting only in the Athens region, according to a recent ESR decision.
The shutdown of Mega Channel may also create significant collateral damage, as the outstanding debts of the station and its parent companies totaled €622 million as of 2016. Greek banks, already on life support due to repeated taxpayer-funded recapitalizations, will bear the brunt of any official bankruptcy which follows, with untold consequences for the Greek banking system and Greek economy.
Nevertheless, there are many who will celebrate Mega Channel’s imminent demise. For years it was closely associated with the highly corrupt Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and was one of the biggest media cheerleaders of the memorandum agreements between Greece and the “troika” (European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund) and the austerity measures which were part and parcel of these agreements. However, the official reasons for its shutdown by the ESR could be considered disturbing.
In Greece, both television and radio stations have been forced to classify their programming as “news-oriented” or “entertainment-oriented.” Until 2013, it was illegal to change classifications. An overnight law passed during the sleepy vacation month of August of that year made a slight modification: while “news-oriented” stations were now allowed to change classifications, “entertainment-oriented” stations were not. This has in effect created a closed market for news-oriented television and radio stations.
Moreover, the current licensing bid for seven nationwide news-oriented licenses is laughable at best and highly hypocritical and fraudulent at worst. Based on claims that the Greek airwaves do not have the capacity for more than a limited number of stations, an artificially low number of licenses (seven) was tendered, while an indeterminate number of national licenses entertainment-only stations may or may not be issued in the future. Instead of handling television licensing in one go and ensuring a level playing field and certainty in the television industry, the current process put forth by the “radical leftist” SYRIZA-led government is piecemeal and haphazard.
Furthermore, by ensuring a limited number of licenses and a high starting bid (€35 million), it became all but certain that only the oligarchs with the deepest pockets could afford to submit an application. This has proven to be the case, as the six applicants for the seven permits all represent prominent oligarchs, such as the Kyriakou family (ANT1), Yiannis Alafouzos (Skai), the Vardinogiannis family (Star Channel), Dimitris Kontominas (Alpha), and SYRIZA favorites Ivan Savvidis (Epsilon TV) and Dimitris Maris (for a new station not yet on the air).
This from the same government which once pledged to “rout the oligarchs” and which continues to claim that it is “cleaning up the airwaves,” much as it has “cleaned up” Greek football…
Update: Following a temporary order issued on Thursday, March 15 by Greece’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, Mega Channel’s shutdown has been temporarily blocked, pending the final outcome of the legal cases lodged against the current licensing procedure, which will be heard by the court in early May.

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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