In the statement he delivered in the evening of Tuesday 11 June on behalf of the government, when the shutdown of Greece’s public broadcaster ERT was officially announced, spokesman Simos Kedikoglou justified the government’s decision by saying, among other things: “The Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, ERT, is a typical case of unique opacity and incredible waste of public money (…) It is governed by opacity in the sector of contract management.”
The irony of this statement was not lost on ERT staff, who were prompt to note that Simos Kedikoglou was himself recruited as an ERT journalist in 1995, at a time when his father, Vasilis Kedikoglou, was a member of parliament with then-governing party PASOK. This was also denounced by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, in response to whom Kedikoglou’s office published a statement, that was reported by To Ethnos newspaper on 14 June:
On 16 June, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras wrote a long opinion piece for the Sunday edition of newspaper Kathimerini (which, incidentally, was published despite the fact that all media were officially on strike) to justify his decision to shut down Greece’s public broadcaster ERT. Former ERT news director Giorgos Kogiannis wrote in turn an answer to the Prime Minister on the newly established ERT workers’ blog, in which he points out several contradictions between Samaras’s claims and some actual facts and emphasizes that Samaras’s criticism of ERT should apply, first and foremost, to his own choices and those of his entourage. We are summarizing this indirect dialogue below.
Last night the Council of State issued a ruling which was hailed as overturning common ministerial decision OIK 02/11.06.2013 that shut down with immediate effect Greece’s public broadcaster ERT, leaving TV watchers in front of a black screen. The Council of State specifically orders:
1. That enforcement of the common ministerial decision is suspended “exclusively with regard to those items pertaining to a) the interruption of transmissions of radio and television signals and of operations of websites owned by ERT, and b) the fact that ERT frequencies should remain inactive (article 2, § 2, item b of the common ministerial decision).”
2. That competent ministers [i.e. the Minister of Finance and the Minister of State responsible for media affairs] should take “necessary organizational measures for the resumption of radio and television signal transmissions and the operation of websites owned by a public broadcaster until the establishment of a new agency which will serve the public interest, as stipulated in article 1 § 2 of the common ministerial decision.”
But what does this mean in practice?
This week on #rbnews international, our guest was Michael Nevradakis, who also runs a web radio station, Dialogos Radio, and who has been actively following the government shutdown of Greece’s national broadcaster ERT. We summarized how the Greek government is trying to close ERT and the reasons behind this decision.
You can follow Michael on Twitter @dialogosmedia.
And of course, you can listen to the podcast after the jump.
Good morning and welcome to radiobubble’s rolling coverage of developments related to the government’s decision to shut down ERT, Greece’s public radio and television broadcaster. You can read about what happened in the past three days here, here and here.
Here are a few useful tidbits of information to start the day:
- The EBU is still livestreaming ERT (watch here). It appears however that ERT radio and television is back on air on analog frequencies in some parts of the country. ERT World seems to be broadcasting normally abroad while ERT radio is broadcasting nationwide through Flash fm radio.
- The Hellenic Parliament reportedly came under attack from Anonymous last night. It is unclear yet what information exactly they gathered, but the cyber attack was apparently on an extremely large scale and included email correspondence of MPs.
- The Communist Party’s television station 902, whose digital frequency has been going off air in the last few days, conducted some tests to determine if this was an accident or not, by broadcasting their regular programming and then switching to ERT live. Every time they did, the signal was thrown off air within seconds. In its statement, 902 denounces the government but also digital transmission service DIGEA, a private company which is enforcing the government’s policy to silence anyone who broadcasts ERT.
- Protests against the shutdown of ERT are continuing in Greece and abroad; for example at least three rallies are planned in the UK today in London, Edinburgh and Bristol. Another one is planned in Sydney, Australia on Sunday.
- @plitharas compiled here a good sample of international media about the ERT shutdown.
Protests continued today across Greece to protest the government’s abrupt decision in the evening of Tuesday 11 June to shut down public radio and television broadcaster ERT (see here and here). Several labour unions called for a general strike today, including the civil servants’ union ADEDY, the General Confederation of Labour GSEE and communist-affiliated PAME. The media strike, which started yesterday for radio and television stations, extended today to newspapers. As a result all media except ERT and media re-transmitting ERT were on strike. A large demonstration took place in front of the ERT headquarters in the morning, while several other rallies and protests were held in other cities and towns across Greece and abroad (photo gallery below). The media strike in Greece will continue tomorrow, with journalists’ unions calling upon all unions and citizens to support not only ERT with protecting the compound but also to ensure that media tycoons cannot whip up support or intimidate workers to break the strike in privately-owned media. The journalists’ unions further call upon all internet-based media to embed the ERT broadcast in their websites.
Following the government’s decision to shut down Greece’s national broadcaster ERT yesterday and demonstrations across the country throughout the night, we will be live-blogging today the latest developments on this issue.
A summary of key events yesterday (more here):
- The government issued in the morning an act of legislative content which enables ministers to shut down public agencies and sack their staff with a simple signature. Acts of legislative content are an emergency procedure that allows the government to enact legislation immediately and seek the approval of parliament within three-and-a-half months.
- The decision to shut down ERT and sack its ~2,700 staff was issued by 9 pm.
- Reaction was immediate from labour unions, opposition parties, international media watchdogs and the public at large. Rallies gathered outside ERT facilities across the country while ERT journalists took over the facilities and continued broadcasting.
- The two junior partners of the government coalition, PASOK and Democratic Left, have stated their opposition to the shutdown of ERT and announced that they will not approve the bill when it comes to parliament.
- The police was sent to take down ERT transmission facilities late at night. At this point, some other media are broadcasting ERT’s signal, mostly online.
- A general media strike began this morning at 6 am for radio and television stations, with newspapers due to join tomorrow. Media who are broadcasting ERT’s signal are exempt from the strike.
- The government announced this morning that a new public broadcaster, called NERIT (New Hellenic Radio, Internet and TV), will be established by 29 August and will operate with 1000 to 1200 employees. The bill to establish the new broadcaster can be found here.
- More rallies against the shutdown of ERT are planned today across the country.
Reports started coming in early this afternoon that the government was intending either to shut down or to downsize the National Radio and Television corporation (ERT), with a purpose to sack its employees and reach the targets it agreed with Greece’s troika of lenders (the EU, ECB and IMF) to sack 15,000 civil servants by the end of 2014. By late afternoon, the reports had become that ERT would be shut down by midnight. ERT currently employs 2,656 civil servants with tenure and 246 fixed-term staff, who all stand now to lose their jobs.
Sackings on such a scale are unlikely to improve the situation of press freedom in Greece. Dimitris Trimis, the chairman of the Athens Daily Newspaper Editors’ Union, told is last week on the #rbnews international show:
The thousands of sackings in media, the pay cuts, the fear that media will collapse and shut down, together with the parameter I just mentioned [the unhealthy links between media, big business and politics], creates a climate of violent censorship and self-censorship among people who work in the media. Therefore, we cannot talk of freedom of expression, and this is why international researchers keep demoting Greece in indexes where countries are ranked according to freedom of speech and objectivity, or at least honesty, in information.