by Maria Spiliopoulou
ATHENS, Jan. 31 (Xinhua)-- Under the burden of 200 million euro (215.09 million US dollars) debts to banks, one of the largest press groups with a long history in the Greek media landscape, Lambrakis Press Group (DOL), has changed hands, outgoing managers announced on Monday.
Greek lenders are due to launch within days the process to place the group under special management regime.
Facing the padlock and the long queue of unemployment 500 journalists, technicians and administrative employees of DOL did not leave their posts and struggle to keep alive two of the oldest and best-selling newspapers in Greece, To Vima (Tribune) and Ta Nea (The News), as well as VIMA FM, news portals and other publications.
Founded in 1922 and 1931 respectively the weekly To Vima and the daily Ta Nea have put their mark on the history of the Greek Press, politics and culture.
They are about to fall victims of the debt crisis that has hit hard Greek economy, including the media sector, since 2009. Besides DOL several other press groups are in the red.
In an editorial printed on the front page of Sunday's Vima this weekend it was announced that DOL is forced to cease publication within days as it can no longer service its debts to banks.
The 500 employees who have not been paid since August keep working determined to keep the newspapers to the newsstands across Greece until they run out of paper and ink.
"The employees are waiting to hear from the banks which will be their fate," their representative Kostas Delezos, also member of board of the Panhellenic Federation of Journalists' Unions (POESY) and the Athens Daily Newspaper Journalists' Union (ESIEA), told Xinhua on Tuesday.
"The 500 employees today are claiming 12 million euros of overdue salaries and compensations for those who will leave. This is what keeps them united and determined to not leave the group until a solution will be given- any solution- either bankruptcy or restructuring and take over by other businessmen," he explained.
Asked how one of the largest press groups ended up fighting for survival, Delezos referred to the dramatic slump in revenues from advertisement and sales due to the economic crisis in recent years which has affected the entire media landscape in Greece.
In 2008 the overall ad spending in Greek media stood at one billion euros. Today it hardly reaches 200 million euros.
Although Ta Nea's circulation gradually dropped from 200,000 copies in the 1990s to 13,000 on average last year, still remained at the top of Greek dailies.
Poor management choices, bailout policies and political pressure are also cited as factors contributing to the current drama.
During the crisis the media landscape in Greece has shrunk dramatically. In 2010 Apogeumatini (Afternoon) daily shut down, in 2013 Alter TV, in 2014 Eleftherotypia (Press Freedom), another historic newspaper.