July 6, 2015 Last Updated 9:12 am

Greece crisis escalates, despite No vote; UK government targets the BBC in new budget proposals

Greeks resoundingly reject austerity in referendum, while UK government proposes further austerity measures, targeting the BBC as competition to digtial moves by newspapers

The Greek government, hoping for a reversal in the winds, made a sacrifice, forcing finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to resign. Varoufakis had previously said he would resign if Greece voted Yes on Sunday.


Greeks gather in Syntagma Square following Sunday’s No vote

Sunday’s vote, a resounding victory for the government of Alexis Tsipras, will mean little if negotiators on the other side choose not to recognize it. On Monday European ministers still appeared unwilling to give Greece debt relief, despite a warning this weekend from the IMF that just such relief was needed.

The big losers in Sunday’s vote appeared to be the media and the Greek opposition. Former Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras resigned from the leadership of New Democracy shortly after it became apparent that the No side had gained at least 60 percent of the vote. Samaras had vocally supported a Yes vote, and even after the vote gave off the appearance that party politics still trumped national interests. Some observers even said that the appearance of former prime ministers supporting Yes convinced many to support the other side.

Greek and international media also were losers in yesterday’s vote. Local media clearly supported the Yes side, and is seen by many as representing those who got Greece into its current situation and now are willing to have workers and pensioners pay the nation’s way out of the financial mess. Also, the media is seen as part of the same group of wealthy that have avoided paying their taxes.

TT-7-6-15International media also came off in a bad light. The Guardian, in particular, was called out by many commentators for its negative portrayal of both the Greek government and the situation in the country. Guardian reports often played up hardships, lines at ATMs, and reporting negatively about the government. But most in the UK press were worse, with The Times, owned by Rupert Murdoch, referring to the Greeks as gamblers, and The Telegraph still calling for a change in government in Greece, despite the victory at the polls Sunday (and in January, when Syriza first won power).

But UK media may simply be reflecting its London bias, one that like the NYT, is often seen as representing the financial sector, and hence sympathetic to the banking community.

Meanwhile, negotiations will continue, with European stock markets down today, and the Euro trading modestly lower. US stock markets are set to open lower, as well. Quickly, things are returning to their old position of stalemate and inaction.

Because of the Independence Day holiday this weekend, new app and update releases were held back, so none were seen this morning. As app store staff return to work later this morning in Cupertino and Mountain View we will begin to see more activity.

Despite the recent announcement that the BBC would cut more than 1,000 positions, the British public-service broadcaster looks to face huge cutbacks as the recently reelected Tory government set its eyes on it.

BBC-hqThe chancellor, George Osborne, seemed to be calling the BBC competition for newspapers and therefore, a threat.

“What is the Times, the Telegraph, the Daily Mail or the Sun or the Daily Mirror going to look like in 10 years’ time? It is going to be an online paper probably,” said Osborne.

“If you’ve got a website that’s got features and cooking recipes – effectively the BBC website becomes the national newspaper as well as the national broadcaster. There are those sorts of issues we need to look at very carefully. You wouldn’t want the BBC to completely crowd out national newspapers. If you look at the BBC website it is a good product but it is becoming a bit more imperial in its ambitions,” Osborne said.

If this is the motivation for targeting the BBC for cutbacks, this seems a rather strong intrusion into the market for a supposedly pro-market government. But seen from the perspective of serving the wishes of those media moguls that supported the government during the last election, Osborne’s moves look like simple political payback.

The Times, which would know, said the government plans to force the BBC to take on the cost of free television licences for older viewers, adding more than £650 million in new costs that would force cutbacks in other areas.

The government favors increasing austerity measures in the UK, pointing to Greece – despite yesterday’s vote – as proof of the need to more public spending reductions. “We have to take difficult decisions like freezing working age benefits,” Osborne said. “We’ve got to look at the benefit system and make sure it is fair to working people.”

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