News / Europe

Greek Protests Grow Over Closure of State Broadcaster

Greek Protests Grow Over Closure of State Broadcasteri
X
June 13, 2013 10:38 AM
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 prompted widespread protests. Labor unions will strike in protest Thursday and there are fears the controversial decision could plunge Greece back into political chaos. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Greek Protests Grow Over Closure of State Broadcaster
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 prompted widespread protests. Labor unions will strike in protest Thursday and there are fears the controversial decision could plunge Greece back into political chaos.

An emotional farewell to colleagues in the newsroom of Greek state broadcaster ERT Tuesday night.

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

Some 2,700 ERT workers have seen their jobs suspended. Many refused police orders to leave the building and remained at their desks. Outside, the demonstrations have swelled.

“For us, there is only one way forward -- resistance and the overturning of this situation, the rape of state television and news gathering," said Panagiotis Kalfayiannis, president of the ERT Workers’ Union. "We hope this will be a catalyst.”

The government said 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 will be compensated.

But the backlash appears to have caught the government by surprise, said 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 noted.

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 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,” he said.

ERT had been on 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, says Panayiotis Demopoulos, an activist in the northern region of Kozani.

"For people in the provinces, the ERT has always been a service that safeguarded the Greek people’s participation in democratic decision making," Demopoulous said. He added the broadcaster’s closure is indicative of a wider democratic shortfall. "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," he stated.

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 the EU and IMF bailout terms.

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

  • Protesters hold a rally outside the headquarters of Greek State broadcaster ERT, Athens, June 13, 2013.
  • Protesters hold a rally outside Greek state broadcaster ERT headquarters, Athens June 13, 2013.
  • Protesters read newspapers outside Greek state television ERT headquarters during general strike in Athens, June 13, 2013.
  • Protesters hold a rally in the courtyard of Greek State broadcaster ERT, Athens, June 13, 2013.
  • A member of pro-communist union PAME waves a flag outside the Greek state television ERT headquarters during a general strike in Athens, June 13, 2013.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs