This evening the Greek government has announced that the Greek public TV and radio will close tonight. The Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT: Ellinikí Radiofonía Tileórasi) will shut down immediately to save money. The government's plans are closing the corporation for at least 3 months, restructuring it with a considerable reduction of the number of workers (from the 2,700 current workers to only 700) and reopening a new and cheaper company. This decision is included in the cuts the Troika is demanding to Greece. The Greek government will have to fire 20,000 public workers until the end of 2014 and privatize all public companies they can. Yesterday the Greek government issued a decree giving the prime minister the power of closing any public company without the approval of the Parliament and this has been their first decision. Golden Dawn, the extreme-right party, has supported the decision of shutting down the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, while Syriza, the left-wing party, has defined it as a coup d' État. With this decision, Greece will be the only member of the EU without public television.
The ERT workers have decided to shut themselves in the Radiomegaro, the main building of the Greek TV, and continue their work 24 hours per day. They have received the support of the workers of the other Greek TV companies, who have decided to go on a six- hour strike. While I'm writing this post, the television signal has disappeared, the screen is in black and the riot police are evicting the workers of the repeaters and transmitters, so that they can't continue broadcasting. There are thousands of people outside the Radiomegaro defending the public TV, but the "markets" are stronger. Or not?
I've written this post with the help of the information provided by Países en conflicto, an RNE radio program about international conflicts:
- The workers are still resisting inside the building. They continue to give information using the signal of other private TV channels and satellites through the Internet. An indefinite strike of all the Greek media has started in support of ERT workers. Tomorrow there will be a general strike in the country to reject this decision.
- The EBU (European Broadcasting Union. In Spanish Unión Europea de Radiodifusión) is trying to cede a satellite to the ERT, so that they continue their work and their images can be received by the population.
- With the government´s decision, part of the Greek population is not able to watch any TV channel of receive any radio station, because the ERT was the only company whose emissions arrived to the most mountainous areas of the country.
- The government has communicated that those who persist in the protest won't perceive any compensation.
- The public broadcasting corporation was also shut down in the past, in 1941, during the Nazi occupation.
- The party in charge of the government is called "New Democracy". The other members of the Greek coalition of government, the PASOK (Socialist Party) and Dimar (Democratic Left) rejected to sign the presidential decision.
- The European Commisssion has made the following statement about the Greek government's decision:
The Commission has not sought the closure of ERT, but nor does the Commission question the Greek government's mandate to manage the public sector.
The decision of the Greek authorities should be seen in the context of the major and necessary efforts that the authorities are taking to modernize the Greek economy. Those include improving its efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector.
Language reveals ideology :(
Here you have the message by the ERT workers to the audience after the closure:
For further information you can read The Guardian updates here:
On Monday the 17th the Greek Supreme Court of Justice ordered to reestablish all the signals of all the ERT channels, but the Greek government hasn't obeyed the order yet. The Greek government is going through a big crisis, because two out of its three member parties (PASOK and Dimar) and are against the ERT closure, but New Democracy, the party of the prime minister Samaras, continues to insist in the necessity of keeping the ERT closed and only accepts to restart the broadcasting with a reduced team of 30 workers, who will be hired for two months. At this moment, the ERT signal continues to show a test card.
Yesterday a new State TV station started broadcasting in Greece: the EDT. A testcard, later an old Greek movie and a ticker with news were the first images seen through the former frequencies of the ERT. This new TV station is supposed to replace the ERT, closed by the government one month ago. The EDT is going to broadcast documentaries and news from agencies for about two months, the time the government has stated they need to hire a new staff and design a new program schedule. Meanwhile the workers of the closed ERT continue to work for free and provide their service to around 65% of the Greek territory, with the help of the satellites of the European Broadcasting Union.
Here you have more information: