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Meeting of the left instead of a discussion on censorship in public media

01 November 2012 / 19:11:26  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

The meeting in the courtyard of the public ERT television channel that had been announced as a conference and a discussion on freedom of speech and censorship turned into a propaganda meeting of left forces in Greece.

The participants went through the gate slowly, because the guards were careful to prevent troublemakers from entering as they might hamper the broadcast of the programme, as had happened in the past.

The protest meeting took place in front of the main entrance of the television. The organizers, who defined themselves as an "Initiative of ERT workers," announced that it was organized in support of journalists Kostas Arvanitis and Marilena Katsimi, whose show was removed from air on Monday. They, however, used the opportunity to raise the issue of the privatization law that was voted on yesterday and to oppose the possible sale of the public television.

Their main slogan was, "Public television does not belong to anyone" and the president of the employees’ union POSPERT, Panagiotis Kalfainis, pointed out that ERT was operating only with the "goodwill of its employees."

More than 10 members of SYRIZA attended the protest, who stressed in their statements that they would not allow "the government of the Troika to sell public assets."

The deputy of the Communist Party, Liana Kanelli, said that she had been censored and removed from air several times in her long career, "but I see for the first time now so many people who have gathered to oppose this."

Representatives of different left parties and movements and representatives of dozens of unions, all of the public sector, expressed their support for "maintaining the public nature of ERT" and for returning the two journalists on air.

There were representatives of ANTARSIA party, the trade union leader of the employees of the Public Power Corporation DEI, Nikos Fotopoulos, and even representatives of the Pakistani community in Greece. Particularly impressive was the presence of representatives of movements like "I do not pay", whose main activity at present is to restore the power of households disconnected from the grid because of unpaid bills.

There were even two "regular viewers". One of them did not miss the opportunity to express his admiration for the presence of Manolis Gletsos – a deputy of SYRIZA now and a hero from the time of the resistance movement. The other one said nothing because he had tied his mouth with a scarf to demonstrate his dissatisfaction with the imposed censorship. In his hands, he held a sheet of paper on which he had written, "When you changed the time from 04:00 to 03:00, did you maybe return the date of April 21, 1967?" referring to the date of the establishment of the military dictatorship in the country.

The word "junta" was present in most of the speeches of speakers. The president of the Panhellenic Federation of Journalists’ Unions George Savidis urged the board members of the television channel to go down to hear the demands of employees or to resign, "because this is democracy."

After the protest, ERT employees withdrew to hold a general meeting to decide what protest actions to take. According to sources, the decision of whether the two journalists will return in the morning show will be taken at tomorrow's meeting of the board of ERT.

Tags: PoliticsMediaPublic televisionERTCensorship
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