A row has erupted in Greece’s state broadcaster ERT over a decision this week to cut a scene showing two men kissing from the evening broadcast of award-winning British period drama “Downton Abbey”.
The company’s managing director criticised the move as censorship after it raised a wave of complaints over what was supposed to be one of ERT’s flagship programmes for the winter season.
“The management of ERT had not been informed of this unfortunate decision involving arbitrary censorship,” the company’s managing director Nikos Simos said in a statement, adding that media were “justified” in slamming the decision.
“Such actions should be avoided in future,” Simos added.
ERT’s general manager for television had previously insisted that the segment of the scene in question, involving a duke and a footman, was “not censored” as the full episode was replayed on Tuesday night.
“The kiss was not broadcast owing to the hour of the programme and the relevant suitability rating,” the general manager, Costas Spyropoulos, had said.
The shortened version was aired on Monday evening under a ‘suggested parental guidance’ rating while the full version was shown on Tuesday after midnight.
In 2003, the state national council for radio and television fined a private station for airing a gay kiss from a Greek drama series.
Greece’s top administrative court later overturned the ruling.
Homosexuals in Greece have only begun seeking greater visibility and voice in recent years. Same-sex relationships were previously taboo and are still condemned by the influential Orthodox Church.