Demetris Kastanas, founder and President of NGTV (National Greek Television), based in New York, is marking his own distinct career in the area of Diaspora Media. The Greek Federation of Associations of Greater New York, honoring his manifold contribution, nominated him as Master of Ceremonies in this year’s annual Parade of Hellenism, at Manhattan 5th Avenue on March 27th.
Mr. Kastanas in his statements to ANA – MPA, stated that this nomination is an honor and justification to him “which comes as a recognition to my efforts and sacrifices, all these years”, adding that “This was not an easy case, the establishment and operation of a Greek Television Network in the States, but also its preservation for 36 consecutive years, being the only “Greek – speaking”, 24hour Television Network, outside the Greek borders”.
Born in Fthiotida Molos Village, Demetris Kastanas, left his homeland at the age of 25, having completed his law studies, while working at Ioniki – Laiki Bank. It was the February of 1968.
“I had many dreams as a young person. Greece, however, especially at the time, did not offer opportunities”, states Mr. Kastanas and continues; “In America, I pretty much had to go through many stages, as hundred thousands of immigrants. When I first got in New York I did various jobs, from working in a gas station, to a florist”. Mr. Kastanas stated that he is very proud for that period in his life, since it felt like attending a “university”.
Within six years, through his hard work, he managed to obtain a few restaurant premises. Nonetheless, from a young age, he had a passion for journalism, politics and the theater. Thus, when he managed to get back on his feet financially, he thought that television could offer him the opportunity to work on his three greatest “loves”… and he made it!
On September 25th 1975, he launched a weekly Greek Broadcast on American Television, a pioneer and brave move, considering the circumstances at that time, opening new horizons for the Greek American Community. Every Sunday, through Channel 47 of the Metropolitan New York Area and through 14 state channels, an hourly program, later on extended to two hours, full of Greece was being presented to the audience.
In 1987, he made another major step, signing a contract with “Time Warner” Cable Television. NGTV, the first Private Greek Broadcast Network worldwide, featuring programs on a 24-hour basis, became a fact. At the same time, he issued a bilingual magazine entitled “ESEIS” (You), which is still on circulation until today.
“In the beginning, I did not have the luxury to afford associates in all sections. Therefore, I took the role of the director, producer and presenter. It was very tiring, but I obtained a unique experience which contributed to my subsequent efforts, when I established my very own Television Network. In 1987 I took a big leap, by running a TV station. I was the first, outside the borders of Greece, to attempt in running Greek TV on a 24 hour basis.
Furthermore, my effort was taking place in the U.S., where the audience was familiar with television and could compare with other U.S. television programs. Let us not forget that, at that time, the only available TV station was the state television network and no other”, stated “Mr. Greek TV” from the U.S..
Much effort and funding were required to broadcast Greece to the homes of thousands of Greek Americans, providing an interesting and serious broadcast, so as to “win” the Greek American audience.
As a Greek Diaspora Media, NGTV has a duty to fulfil; “NGTV significantly contributes to the promotion and presentation of Hellenism’s national issues in America. In addition, we operate as a “link” between the Greek Diaspora and Greece, but also among Greek Americans. I managed to make partnerships, dramatically increasing costs, with the greatest Television Networks in Greece, and as a result we select the best and most popular television programs. Therefore, the viewers of NGTV have the opportunity and advantage to gain an overview from almost all TV stations of their birthplace”, mentions Mr. Kastanas.
NGTV is identified with the course of Greek Americans for the past 35 years, joining them in their struggles, joys, success and sorrows they experienced altogether, according to Mr. Kastanas, who is proud for the contribution of his station in national charity and social purposes, through the organization of Tele – Marathons.
The characteristic feature of the station, are Mr. Kastanas’ productions. The channel hosts News Programs, dealing with local and wider American news and regularly presents interviews with Greek Diaspora representatives and public figures in the U.S., as well as politicians, artists and businessmen from Greece and Cyprus, visiting the U.S.
Mr. Kastanas is very confident in the future of Greek Television in America. The number of young viewers is evidence to that, as it is increasing every year, meaning that 3rd and 4th generation people are watching Greek TV.
In conclusion, Mr. Kastanas expressed his concern over the way our birthplace is making use of Diaspora media, admitting that he is sad over the fact that the “national center” did not manage, did not want and has yet to find the ways to make use of this world, supporting an collaborating with Diaspora Media.
Lastly Mr. Kastanas expresses his wish for “the current government, led by Mr. George Paspandreou, to handle Diaspora Hellenism with more love and respect”, stating that “Mr. Papandreou also comes from the Diaspora and I expect that he will show interest on Diaspora Hellenism issues with sensitivity and attention, and especially Diaspora Media, because if we every stop having our own media, there will be no stand for the voice of Hellenes Abroad”.
Source: ANA – MPA