Greece shuts down state TV and radio, strong reactions

2013-06-12 01:48:33 GMT2013-06-12 09:48:33(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English
The main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party leader Alexis Tsipras (L) talks to media in front of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) headquarters in Athens, to protest the Greek government's decision of closing ERT, June 11, 2013. Greece's government announced on Tuesday the immediate shutdown of the national television and radio broadcaster ERT as of Tuesday midnight local time and its reopening with a pared-down staff in the future. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)The main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party leader Alexis Tsipras (L) talks to media in front of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) headquarters in Athens, to protest the Greek government's decision of closing ERT, June 11, 2013. Greece's government announced on Tuesday the immediate shutdown of the national television and radio broadcaster ERT as of Tuesday midnight local time and its reopening with a pared-down staff in the future. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
People gather in front of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) headquarters in Athens, to protest the Greek government's decision of closing ERT, June 11, 2013. Greece's government announced on Tuesday the immediate shutdown of the national television and radio broadcaster ERT as of Tuesday midnight local time and its reopening with a pared-down staff in the future. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)People gather in front of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) headquarters in Athens, to protest the Greek government's decision of closing ERT, June 11, 2013. Greece's government announced on Tuesday the immediate shutdown of the national television and radio broadcaster ERT as of Tuesday midnight local time and its reopening with a pared-down staff in the future. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
Musicians play in front of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) headquarters in Athens, to protest the Greek government's decision of closing ERT, June 11, 2013. Greece's government announced on Tuesday the immediate shutdown of the national television and radio broadcaster ERT as of Tuesday midnight local time and its reopening with a pared-down staff in the future. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)Musicians play in front of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) headquarters in Athens, to protest the Greek government's decision of closing ERT, June 11, 2013. Greece's government announced on Tuesday the immediate shutdown of the national television and radio broadcaster ERT as of Tuesday midnight local time and its reopening with a pared-down staff in the future. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
People gather in front of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) headquarters in Athens, to protest the Greek government's decision of closing ERT, June 11, 2013. Greece's government announced on Tuesday the immediate shutdown of the national television and radio broadcaster ERT as of Tuesday midnight local time and its reopening with a pared-down staff in the future. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)People gather in front of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) headquarters in Athens, to protest the Greek government's decision of closing ERT, June 11, 2013. Greece's government announced on Tuesday the immediate shutdown of the national television and radio broadcaster ERT as of Tuesday midnight local time and its reopening with a pared-down staff in the future. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
The employees make the last program in Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) headquarters in Athens, June 11, 2013. Greece's government announced on Tuesday the immediate shutdown of the national television and radio broadcaster ERT as of Tuesday midnight local time and its reopening with a pared-down staff in the future. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)The employees make the last program in Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) headquarters in Athens, June 11, 2013. Greece's government announced on Tuesday the immediate shutdown of the national television and radio broadcaster ERT as of Tuesday midnight local time and its reopening with a pared-down staff in the future. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
People gather in front of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) headquarters in Athens, to protest the Greek government's decision of closing ERT, June 11, 2013. Greece's government announced on Tuesday the immediate shutdown of the national television and radio broadcaster ERT as of Tuesday midnight local time and its reopening with a pared-down staff in the future. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)People gather in front of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) headquarters in Athens, to protest the Greek government's decision of closing ERT, June 11, 2013. Greece's government announced on Tuesday the immediate shutdown of the national television and radio broadcaster ERT as of Tuesday midnight local time and its reopening with a pared-down staff in the future. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

Greece's government announced on Tuesday the immediate shutdown of the national television and radio broadcaster ERT as of Tuesday midnight local time and its reopening with a pared-down staff in the future.

The decision, made in the context of austerity and reform policies implemented to tackle the debt crisis, has sparked strong reactions from press unions, trade unions, political parties, as well as approximately 2,700 employees currently working at ERT's four nationwide television channels and 28 radio stations.

"The government has decided to close the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT). It will be replaced by a modern television and audio broadcaster as soon as possible," Greek government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said in a televised address on Tuesday afternoon.

He cited chronic mismanagement and corruption as the main reasons behind the decision, arguing that the 300 million euros (398 million U.S. dollars) cost per year currently paid by Greeks for the broadcaster is about seven times higher than that of other private stations.

Kedikoglou added that ERT's personnel will receive redundancy payments and could apply for jobs in the new broadcasting organization. He did not specify when the new body will resume transmissions.

The national broadcaster is the first major company to bear the brunt of the wider public sector closing, as the government appears determined to meet commitments made to international lenders who keep Greece afloat with bailout loans over the past three years in return for further vital financing.

ERT's closure is part of a plan to overhaul public services, which will see dismissal of 2,000 civil servants this summer, 4,000 by the end of this year and 15,000 by 2015 in order to slash deficits and boost efficiency under the terms of deals struck since 2010 with European Union and International Monetary Fund creditors.

ERT's employees, who were caught unaware by the shock announcement, gathered at the corporation's headquarters in a northern Athens suburb, vowing to resist the closure and to take over operations, broadcasting as usual.

"We will stand up to the circumstances and safeguard Greek peoples' democratic right to information," said a statement issued by their general assembly, as more Greek journalists, politicians and citizens were arriving at ERT's headquarters to express their support to the mobilization and police forces were deployed to safeguard security.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside ERT's headquarters said that it is "inconceivable for any country not to have a public broadcaster."

They argued that the mass layoffs of workers will only worsen record high unemployment rates and heavy recession fuelled by rounds of wage cuts and tax hikes which have led to numerous strikes.

The Greek Federation of Journalists' Unions called on Tuesday for a six-hour nationwide work stoppage for journalists working at private broadcasting media until the early hours of Wednesday.

Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party leader Alexis Tsipras denounced the decision for the shutdown as a "coup d'etat", arguing that the conservative-led government bypassed the parliament.

The two junior centre-Left partners in the coalition government also expressed their objection to the move, calling for an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

They warned that they would vote down the legislative decree which allows ministers to shut down public entities -- signed by Samaras and his New Democracy party ministers, when it will be tabled to the parliament.

Local analysts commented that the premier "gambles on the future of the coalition government" with Tuesday's decision.

| PRINT | RSS
Editor:
Add Comment
Name
 
Please read our Terms of Service. Messages that harass, abuse or threaten others; have obscene or otherwise objectionable content; have spam, commercial or advertising content or links may be removed.