On Tuesday, Greek government decided to shut down the national Greek radio and television broadcasting. So, at around 11pm on Tuesday night, 3 state television channels (ERT, Ελληνική Ραδιοφωνία Τηλεόραση, “Greek Radio-Television”) stopped working.
According to the news, the decision was taken extremely quickly. The PM met with his ministers who signed the document and in 3 hours the act was done. The other two parties of the coalition strongly object to this. The opposition is furious, since there was no law approved by the Parliament and they talk about the PM being a dictator. According to the decision, more than 2600 employees are immediately laid off and all state broadcasting ceased.
At the moment, there is uprising in the streets of the Greek capital. There are lots of former ERT employees still in the company’s buildings, occupying them, refusing to leave and still trying to broadcast. Lots of people have also gathered outside the main ERT building showing their support. The government is using riot police to take down state antennas to stop the transmissions and make people evacuate the areas. The journalist association has declared a running 48 hours strike to protest against the closure.
People outside ERT
ERT began radio transmitting in 1938. Television channels followed from 1966. Compared to the private TV channels it always tried to maintain a level of quality. There were very interesting documentaries, older movies and state programmes. Showing things like theatrical ancient tragedies and the philharmonic orchestra didn’t make ERT the most popular channel to the masses. That meant that the TV and radio channels weren’t profitable. The government had to subsidize it, apart from a little bit of money every household had to pay to ERT as part of their electric bill. In addition, ERT was used by previous politicians as a mean to get more voters. Lots of people were hired in ERT in the 80s and 90s for no apparent reason or qualifications.
The last news read from ERT
So, I agree that there should have been some kind of purification of the organisation. They could reorganise its structure, do some pay cuts or some layoffs. That would require a level of unwanted organisation and probably a little bit of money that the government didn’t want to spend. So, they instead decided on pulling the plug completely. TROIKA (European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF inspectors) are visiting Greece and the moment and had demanded fewer public sector employees, so the government made that stupid decision to please them…
ERT is part of the county’s history. And I can’t stress enough how important ERT’s archives are. The country’s modern history is recorded by them. Even during the military coup d’état in 1967, ERT wasn’t silenced. Think about the government shutting down BBC from one day to the next! And all these people made redundant…