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Crimes have been committed in the state broadcaster ERT for years

13 June 2013 / 22:06:59  GRReporter
4658 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Following yesterday's media strike, Greece woke up today to the 24-hour nationwide strike which the trade unions of public and private sector workers had announced yesterday in protest against the closure of the state broadcaster ERT. "We want to express our solidarity with the workers and to confront the unacceptable measures in the public sector," said Ilias Iliopoulos, general secretary of the trade union of public workers GSEE. The message issued by the executive committee of the trade union defines the government's actions as "radical" and as intended "to interrupt the objective information and pluralism of news."

As a result, the buses and trolleybuses in Athens are not operating at all, the bus drivers in Thessaloniki stopped working at 9 am and they will sit behind the wheel again after 9 pm. Railway workers are also on strike and the underground is not transporting passengers to Athens airport. Airport controllers have also decided to join the strike in support of ERT with a two-hour work stoppage between 3 and 5 pm. Smaller airports across the country are not working from 12 noon to 5 pm because of the involvement of civil aviation workers in the strike.

The mobilized workers in the underground, tram and trolleybus transport in Athens had stopped working from the start of the early morning shift to 9 am. Hospital doctors, teachers in public and private schools and officials in several ministries are on strike as well. The Technical Chamber has also urged its members to participate in the strike whereas the Greek federation of dockworkers has decided not to strike, although it supports the protests related to the closure of ERT.

Thousands of Greeks who oppose the government's decision gathered today outside the main building of the state media. Although they had held preliminary meetings at different locations, the groups of protesting members of SYRIZA, of the communist PAME, of the extra-parliamentary far-left ANTARSIA party and members of anarchist organizations gathered in the courtyard of ERT.

Meanwhile, dozens of websites and even the television channel of the Greek Communist Party KKE are transmitting the live broadcasts of ERT as its employees are carrying out an informational marathon. They refuse to leave the studio and present only parties and organizations that condemn the government's decision.

In this connection, the Ministry of Finance has issued a message warning regional broadcasters that they will be penalized if they continue to transmit the live broadcasts of ERT. According to some Greek media, the Ministry has reacted mainly to the transmission of broadcasts via the Communist Party’s channel 902. What is tragicomic in the case is that the party had closed its TV channel and fired dozens of employees. A little later, Digea, the company providing the digital television broadcasting, interrupted the signal.

Despite the complete information blackout which does not apply only to the journalists who are following the developments in ERT, there are a lot of funny comments in the social media. The majority of them are more than meaningful since they present paradoxes and contradictions related to the closure of ERT:

"The complete paradox: The "I do not pay" movement opposes the closure of ERT."

"They closed ERT and the employees started to work without strikes and interruptions."

"ERT: the New Polytechnic School. History repeats itself as a farce."

"I am worried that ERT has closed. Where will we be watching Eurovision, gentlemen? Huh? "

In order to obtain an objective comment on the issue, GRReporter has contacted journalist Yiannis Christakos who, until a few months ago, was following, on behalf of the state broadcaster, the work of the government and the developments related to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Christakos, how would you comment on the government's decision to close ERT?

I think this is a political decision that has been taken in recent months. The continuous strikes in ERT as well as the media mismanagement, which the employees of ERT condemned, had played a key role in it.

How will this story evolve in your opinion?

Anyway, the issue of ERT’s closure is closely related to the way in which the tripartite coalition government has been functioning. As far as I know, the main partner, New Democracy, has decided to close ERT and to reopen it, renewed and freed from the burden of the past, after a certain period of time. On the other hand, the other two parties that support the cabinet, namely PASOK and Democratic Left, have requested a meeting to discuss the actions of the government. Evangelos Venizelos and Fotis Kouvelis have stated that they do not agree with the manner in which ERT has been closed and that they will discuss a bill on its reorganization without closing it. As is already clear, the three leaders will meet on Monday to discuss the issue. Therefore, I would say that this is a purely political game between the parties, which is based on the ideological differences between them.

In recent days, information about the amount of the salaries in ERT has been published by different websites. Some of the amounts are huge. Can you tell us if they are correct?

Due to my contacts with colleagues, I am aware of the amount of the salaries of the people who are engaged with the daily information flow. The salaries of these people are calculated according to the salary scale in the public sector and are not high. I would even say that they have been cut by almost 40% over the past two years.

Tags: MediaERTMismanagementClosureStrikeSocial media
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