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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-05-31

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 31/05/1997 (ANA)


Athens, Greece, 31/05/1997 (ANA)


  • ANA Med National Agencies conference begins
  • "November 17" terrorists admit to 1996 US embassy rocket attack
  • PM Simitis tours Epirus, stresses Egnatia's importance
  • Greek Armed Forces chief's visit to Romania
  • FM Pangalos to visit Luxembourg, Tirana
  • Former PM Mitsotakis, Alternate FM to receive Turkish Ipekci awards
  • Alternate Foreign Minister calls meeting EU's "Santer package"
  • Rostropovich to perform in Thessaloniki
  • Drachma stabilised
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


ANA Med National Agencies conference begins

The Athens News Agency seminar "National News Agencies in the New Communication Era" began this morning with a discussion of news agencies' role in the information society, diversification as a strategy for survival, subscribers' expectations from a national news agency, tailored services such as sports, finance and video news, as well as on-line data bases and CD-ROM.

The seminar, sponsored by the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and its subsidiary OTEnet, was opened by Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas.

Professor Dr.Bernd-Peter Lange, Director General of the European Institute for Media, emphasised the fact that Internet now gave consumers more choice and control of content, without the mediation of media organisations, with the attendant dangers of error and abuse.

"Values and assumptions that evolved in response to scarcity will have to be revised in order to cope with abudance," he said, stressing the increased importance of responsibility.

"With so much information available, the ability to select relevant credible news from disparate data will become even more important. Brand identity will take on a new importance to distinguish the news presentations in the future. National news agencies could play an important role in giving credibility to news stories and could act as custodians of quality content," he observed.

The relationship between news agencies and television was examined by Stelios Papathanasiou, Assistant Professo, Department of Communication and Mass Media at Athens University.

The main concerns in this area, he said, were firstly the increasing number of broadcasters seeking strategic alliances with each other, which raised questions such as whether such a pooling of resources threatened agencies' core news-gathering business.

Yet the big news agencies appear to have flourished since the appearance of television news, he added, since it would be "economic luncacy, even for a 24-hour global network like CNN to aim to be completely self-sufficient in international news gathering."

"The implication is that news agencies are operating in a commodity-type business in which it is difficult to differentiate one service from another, so the competitor offering the cheapest service will win the market share," said Papathanasiou.

Chief consultant of the Middle East News Agency (MENA), Mohammed El-Biali suggested ten rules for news agencies in the information society.

These included an emphasis on providing background, the importance of attribution, clarity, brevity, objectivity and detachment on the part of the journalist. He also drew attention to the enormous Mediterranean market, whose 20 countries had a total population of 600 million people.

The questions which news agencies should bear in mind, he said, were the first of all the kind of information they would supply, the kind of cooperation which should be established between national and international news agencies and how cooperation between agencies from developed and developing nations could be established to deal with the increased flow of information.

Manuel Pedroso Marques, President of the Portuguese news agency LUSA, addressed the question of subscribers' expectations from a national news agency, the first being good accurate news and the other being that not everybody will be able to pay the stipulated fees, thus giving some news agencies a competitive advantage. A national news agency bulletin, he said, should provide coverage of the "places, realities and events subscribers cannot cover, permitting them to work in a lighter organisational structure."

On the same subject, Pantelis Kapsis, Editor in Chief of Greece's largest circulation daily Ta Nea, stressed the importance of background analysis and catering to readers' needs for information other than news items, such as hobbies and leisure, making newspapers appear more like magazines.

Kapsis criticised national news agencies for often operating in a semi- official, bureaucratic way, making it hard for them to compete with newspapers. Often, he added, the agencies cannot afford the exclusive rights a newspaper can pay for. More cooperation is called for, he concluded.

The morning session continued with addresses by Konrad Tretter, Marketing and Sales Director at the Austrian Press Agency, and Nikola Antonov, Regional News and TV Manager for Central and Eastern Europe, Reuters.

The Austrian Press Agency's experience in tailored services such as sports and finance was detailed by Konrad Tretter, APA's Marketing and Sales Director. New market segments, apart from the APA's traditional customers such as press, include independent radio and television, other media such as Internet and other on-line services, public authorities such as political parties, government and parliament, and business and financial institutions.

Above all, Tretter emphasised the fact that value added information service providers brought in more revenue than basic information providers.

"The higher the level of diversification, the higher the revenues," said Tretter. The results in figures were a 12% increase in turnover between 1985 and 1996, and a 35% increase in cash flow.

ANADOLU Deputy Director General Elvan Baransel gave a brief outline of her agency's sports news. ANADOLU, the most powerful media organisation in Turkey, had 20 bureaus around the country with hundreds of correspondents. Baransel expressed the hope that sports could be a factor for peace and friendship in the region.

The final speaker in the morning's session was Nikola Antonov, Reuters' Regional News and TV Manager for Central and Eastern Europe.

Reuters' reaction to Internet, he explained, had moved from ignorance and then fear before the realisation that the resulting information overload created problems for those with money but no time.

Reuters' Business Information Products were created as a secondary news market with carefully selected, coded and organised items. The original content was later expanded to include 2,400 other sources.

Responding to question regarding the "David and Goliath" relationship, as he called it, between national and international agencies, with the latter filing stories in national languages, Antonov said this applied chiefly to international angle on local events and financial news services, the latter accounting for 93% of Reuters revenue profit, with only 7% coming from the media.

The afternoon session is to examine in more depth the national news agencies' relationship with Internet and telecommunications organisations, as well as satellite transmission and multimedia structure in news agencies.

The seminar concludes late tomorrow morning.

"November 17" terrorists admit to 1996 US embassy rocket attack

The "November 17" terrosist group in a new proclamation has assumed responsibility for the rocket attack on the United States' embassy in Athens, back in February 1996.

The terrorists' proclamation, the third sent to Athenian daily ELEFTHEROTYPIA in as many days, says that they did not issue one at the time of the attack on the US mission because "the reasons were so obvious and understood" and it relates it to the Imia crisis between Greece and Turkey in January 1996.

Police sources said yesterday that American police authorities have offered the use of state-of-the-art electronic equipment to assist in the hunt for the terrorist group.

Meanwhile the 21st victim of "November 17", 42-year-old shipowner Costas Peratikos was laid to rest in Athens today, shot on Wednesday by three assailants in a Piraeus street ambush.

PM Simitis tours Epirus, stresses Egnatia's importance

The Egnatia Highway currently under construction across the breadth of northern Greece will be one of the major projects marking Greece's course early next century, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday at the start of a three-day tour of the northwestern Epirus

Noting that the present situation in the Balkans is perhaps the most characteristic case of the extreme consequences of the new, fluid international reality resulting from the collapse of bipolarity in international relations, he said that the strengthe ning of Greece's economy and its foreign policy would make the country a strong political and economic pole in the Balkans.

He added that Epirus - one of the poorest regions in the EU - must play a leading role in this process, while the Egnatia Highway, together with the upgraded port of Igoumenitsa and the Aktion-Preveza underwater tunnel, will put the region into an orbit o f development, opening the roads to the Balkans and making Epirus a gateway to western Europe.

Greece's policy in the Balkans, and particularly regarding Albania, is another factor that will promote the region's escape from isolation, the premier added.

He said Greece has already made important efforts in restoring conditions of normality in the neighbouring country.

The prime minister also referred extensively to the details of a five-year, 700-billion-drachma government development plan for Epirus.

Greek Armed Forces chief's visit to Romania

National Defence General Staff chief Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis discussed issues concerning cooperation between the armed forces of Greece and Romania during his recent visit to the Balkan nation.

Gen. Tzoganis held talks with his Romanian counterpart, Gen. Constantin Degeratu, the presidents of the Romanian parliament's and senate's defence committees, that nation's defence minister and the presidential adviser on defence issues.

Gen. Tzoganis also discussed existing possibilities for military cooperation, the situation in the Balkans, and Albania in particular, as well as Romania's potential accession to the NATO alliance.

FM Pangalos to visit Luxembourg, Tirana

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos will leave for Luxembourg on Monday, to participate in the European Union Council of General Affairs. Next Tuesday he will travel to Albania for a one-day visit.

Former PM Mitsotakis, Alternate FM to receive Turkish Ipekci awards

Former New Democracy prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis will leave for Turkey next week to receive the 'Ipekci' Award for promoting Greek-Turkish friendship and his "25-year-long efforts in favour of rapprochement and cooperation".

Also to receive this yearYs award will be Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou for his efforts as education minister in promoting knowledge in schools; Coalition of the Left Euro-MP Michalis Papayiannakis for supporting Turkey's application for EU membership; Olympic weightlifting champions Valerios Leonidis and Naim Suleymanoglu; composer Zulfi Livaneli; Greek cartoonist KYR; journalist Ali Birant, and the Metropolitan of Kalymnos Nectarios.

Mr. Mitsotakis will have a series of contacts with prominent political and business leaders, including Turkish President Suleyman Demirel on Friday.

Alternate Foreign Minister calls meeting EU's "Santer package"

A meeting was held at the Foreign Ministry yesterday afternoon at the initiative of Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and focusing on the "Santer package", namely, European Union funding for EU member-states after 1999.

According to press reports, an in-depth examination of fiscal prospects in the EU was made based on both the needs of member-states and financial commitments by the "15" towards candidate countries.

The reports said that according to a European Commission "scenario", enlargement will require at least Ecu30 billion. Among others, this means the preparations for development plans of member-states must start now.

No decisions were made and it was announced that further meetings will be held.

Rostropovich to perform in Thessaloniki

Russian-born cellist Mstislav Rostropovich will appear at the Philharmonic Orchestra of Nations in Thessaloniki on June 3 and 4, visiting the city as part of the Cultural Capital of Europe events.

Mr. Rostropovich will solo with works of Dvorak on June 3. The next evening he will conduct the same orchestra with works by Serge Prokofiev, as the National Ballet of Lithuania performs Romeo and Juliet.

The performances will take place in the renovated Theatre-in-the-Forest which holds 3,500 people.

Drachma stabilised

The Greek money market returned to normal trade on Friday after three days of turmoil that led to total outflows of around 1.5 billion drachmas and forced the Bank of Greece to step up interventions in order to curb the drachma's slide.

The Greek currency rose against the ECU and most other foreign currencies to end at 311 drachmas from Thursday's 312 drachmas versus the ECU at the central bank's daily fix. Outflows were minimal, totalling 30 million US dollars.

Interbank rates fell to around 10.50-10.70 percent, reversing an early advance to 13 percent.


On Saturday light cloud is expected over most of Greece except for Macedonia, Thrace and the islands of the northern Aegean Sea where scattered showers and the posibility of local thunderstorms are forecast. Athens can expect only some light cloud and a temperatuyre range of 15 to 27 degrees centigrade. Similar weather is forecast for Thessaloniki with temperatures 12-23C.

Foreign Exchange

Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 269.080 Pound sterling 442.015 Cyprus pd 531.712 French franc 46.920 Swiss franc 191.208 German mark 158.656 Italian lira (100) 15.965 Yen (100) 231.890 Canadian dlr. 195.067 Australian dlr. 205.126 Irish Punt 407.692 Belgian franc 7.682 Finnish mark 52.534 Dutch guilder 140.973 Danish kr. 41.662 Swedish kr. 34.916 Norwegian kr. 37.970 Austrian sch. 22.542 Spanish peseta 1.874 Port. Escudo 1.566



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