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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs