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Greek Public TV Shut Down

  • June 14th, 2013
  • Posted by EU Australia

Blank screenThe Greek government this week shut down its national broadcaster ERT, the Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, saying the move was in step with steep austerity measures across the board.

PULLING THE PLUG

Greece TVThe way he did it (11.6.13); pulling the plug on the day of announcement; plunging the screens to black; heading-off protests, and declaiming against past political offences against him by the broadcaster, brought a new wave of conflict.

The conservative head of government brought up long-standing claims that the service, with some 2700 staff, now all fired, had been stacked with political appointees over the years; years dominated by his centre-left opponents.

He was even quoted calling the ERT organisation “sinful”.

COALITION DIVIDED

The problem for the country this week, is that Mr Samaras, from Nea Demokratea party, is heading a broad coalition with the centre-left Pasok and the smaller Democratic Left, set up to save the country from bankruptcy.

See EUAustralia Online: A counry uner opressure …; Greece: government must argue with the ‘Troika’; Athens: new government’s plan … – 7.7.12.

They objected and began talking of legislation to countermand the closure, plausible given the current arithmetic of party delegations in the parliament; and by the week’s end a general strike had been convened.

It augured badly for national unity in the face of long-running financial and economic crisis. It would put in doubt the agreement to maintain a drive for revenue-getting and reductions in government service – in the teeth of bad recession and unemployment seceding 25%.

The Nea Demokratea side said they would set up a new broadcasting service on a new model, with fewer staff, (all eyes already on who might be getting a job there and why).

AUDIENCES LOSE PROGRAMS

The ERT like many national broadcasters had smaller audience share, averaging at 6%, but strong cumulative builds of audience, strong audiences in certain program areas,  and strong public support  for valued services not offering lucrative numbers for the commercials.

It was depended on in remote villages notably on the islands (where Pasok support was more concentrated), and also by people in the diaspora; many Greek Australians joined the protests; the national multi-cultural broadcaster, SBS, scrambled to replace its ERT relays with a commercial service from the old country.

Reference

Ekathimerini, Athens, Greek public broadcaster ERT to be shut down, reopened with fewer employees, 11.6.13. http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_11/06/2013_503874, (14.6.13).

Nektaria Stamouli and Philip Pamgalos, WSJ, NY, Greece Shuts Public Broadcaster for Streamlining, 11.6.13.  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323495604578539501532418448.html, (14.6.13).

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