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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More