News / Europe

Greek Protests Grow Over Closure of State Broadcaster

Employees of the Greece state broadcaster ERT in the control room at the television station's headquarters in Athens, June 12, 2013.
Employees of the Greece state broadcaster ERT in the control room at the television station's headquarters in Athens, June 12, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Henry Ridgwell
— Unions and politicians in Greece are urging the government to reverse its decision to close the state broadcaster - the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, or ERT.  The decision to take it off the air has prompted widespread protests.  Labor unions will hold a protest strike Thursday and there are fears the controversial decision could plunge Greece back into political chaos.

In the final broadcast on state television Tuesday night, emotional colleagues were seen hugging each other in the newsroom.

Then, as the news reader began a live interview, the channel was pulled from the airwaves.

Some 2,700 ERT workers have had their jobs suspended.  Many, however, have continued to work at their desks, refusing police orders to leave the building.  Outside, demonstrations have swelled.

Demonstrators included Panagiotis Kalfayiannis, president of the ERT Workers’ Union.

For us, there is only one way forward - resistance, and the overturning of this situation, the rape of state television and news gathering.  We hope this will be a catalyst," he says.

The government says the closure is temporary - aimed at stanching what it called an "incredible waste" of taxpayers' money and satisfying international lenders.  A smaller state broadcaster will be set up and workers compensated.

But the backlash appears to have caught the government by surprise, says political analyst Dionyssis Dimitrakopoulos of Birkbeck College in London.

“There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that that particular company needs to be reformed dramatically.  But there is reform and there is reform.  And shutting it down is not the kind of welcome reform that many Greeks want.  This particular company is a symbol of freedom,” Dimitrakopoulos said

The shutdown was not debated in parliament but forced through by ministerial decree.

It has sparked an internal revolt in Greece’s fragile governing coalition, with the two smaller parties voicing strong opposition.

Dionyssis Dimitrakopoulos warns that Greece’s political crisis could be rekindled.

“The worst case scenario is for the government to collapse and a new electoral contest to take place.  This is the last thing that the country needs.” Dimitrakopoulos said.

ERT had been on the air since 1938, but its audience share had dwindled to 13 percent.

In the Greek islands and regions, the state broadcaster played an important role, according to Panayiotis Demopoulos, an activist in the northern region of Kozani.

Demopoulos says for people in the provinces, the ERT has always been a service that safeguarded the Greek people’s participation in democratic decision-making.

Demopoulos says the broadcaster’s closure is indicative of a wider democratic shortfall.

He says everything happened in an extremely rapid and autocratic way, which suggests - without exaggerating or being metaphorical - that those in power are now practicing a dictatorial form of government.

The protests compound a volatile week, after the government failed to sell the state-owned gas utility - part of a huge sell-off of state assets demanded by European Union and International Monetary Fund bailout terms.

The EU has called on Greece to stick to its timetable.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid