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State broadcaster ERT to be shut down at midnight

11 June 2013 / 19:06:19  GRReporter
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The government in Athens has decided to close the state broadcaster ERT and to reopen it, but with a reduced staff, in compliance with its commitment to Greece’s lenders to dismiss 2,000 public workers in the shortest possible time.

According to sources, the decision was taken on Saturday but several Greek media have cited the government's plans over the past month. The cabinet has neither confirmed nor denied the publications.

The news was officially announced by government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou during the news broadcast at 6 pm. ERT’s signal will be interrupted at midnight. "The public broadcaster is a unique example of a waste of resources and lack of transparency. This will be over from today onwards. The Greek people are paying for ERT through their electricity bills and the amount is equivalent to about 300 million euro per year. It costs three to seven times more than other television channels and has four to six times more staff for a very small percentage of viewership. The three channels together had hardly reached half of the viewership of a small TV channel."

It had been clear in the morning that today's meeting of the leaders of the ruling coalition would discuss the recovery plan of the state radio and television companies. Early in the afternoon, it turned out that a presidential decree had been published in the Government Gazette, allowing the competent ministers to decide, in each case, on the merger or closure of state services.

According to sources of Kathimerini newspaper, only part of the present 2,800 employees will start working in the new ERT. The rest will be able to leave voluntarily or they will be dismissed in accordance with the legal regulations controlling these procedures in the private sector. The employees of the two channels, namely ET1 and NET in Athens, and of ET3 in Thessaloniki, are in the television buildings, discussing the protest actions they will take. They intend to prevent the media signal from being suspended, urging citizens, parties and organizations to support them.

New Democracy’s partners in the ruling coalition opposed the closure of ERT. "It is impossible for a European country to remain without public television even for an hour ", reads the message of the Democratic Left.

PASOK had also opposed the closure of ERT and described the act as a sacrifice resulting from the fact that the 2,000 public workers who should be dismissed had not been selected in time and in compliance with specific procedures. Both parties have called for a rapid plan for ERT’s reorganization and restructuring. It is worth noting that the four ministers who are supported by the two parties have not signed the Presidential Decree.

Opposition parties had firmly opposed the decision of the cabinet and SYRIZA said that it would actively support the employees’ protests.

So far, the developments have been focused on ERT. However, the Decree applies to all public companies but it is not yet clear how many of them will be merged or closed permanently.

Tags: MediaERTState broadcasterClosurePresidential decree
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