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June 12, 2013
June 12, 2013

This is how Greece became the only EU country without a public broadcaster.

Author: Anna Papoutsi
Category: On the crisis
This article is also available in: elesfrpt-pt
This is how Greece became the only EU country without a public broadcaster.

At around 11 pm, June 11th 2013 the signal of ERT stopped transmitting.

The Greek government decided to shut down the Public Broadcaster. 2,656 people were notified that very same day that they were being fired. Using a legislative act –which is to be used only in extreme and urgent cases– and without the signatures of four Ministers or the majority in Parliament, PM Samaras ordered the riot police to shut down the ERT transmitter from Hymettus Mountain.

And in this way, Greece became the only EU country that no longer has a public broadcaster.

ERT radio was founded in 1938. It was first shut down with the German invasion in Athens in 1941. That last emission said: “In a few moments the radio will no longer be Greek and it will be transmitting lies”.

Since then, ERT has been the source of information, culture, news and education for millions of Greek expats via its satellite programme available in all continents as well as for inhabitants of remote areas and islands.

The cultural contribution of ERT over time is invalueable with shows and programmes that would have never been funded by any private broadcaster of convenient and sponsored entertainment. Indicatively, we should mention the “Monday Theatre” and the “Third Programme” by Manos Hadjidakis in the radio, the “Monogram” that for 31 years has been recording persons who sealed with their presence and work the intellectual, artistic, scientific, cultural and overall social life of modern Greece; olitical documentaries such as “Report Without Frontiers” by Stelios Kouloglou and the unique “Exandas” by Giorgos Avgerinopoulos,  Educational TV and the hosting of marathons by international bodies such as UNESCO and international sports tournaments. Let’s not forget the Musical Ensembles of ERT and the National Symphonic Orchestra.

ERT has recently digitalised its massive archive that, until now, could be accessed freely by anyone through its website. It contains valuable historical, social, cultural, political moments of the history of Greece.

The closure of ERT exacerbates the already shady horizon in the media landscape of Greece since it was actually the only legally licensed broadcaster… Privately owned TV channels and radio stations in Greece have been functioning on extensions of their temporary permits for the past 20 years. It is a peculiar regime of mutual hostage and blackmail between governments and media owners with the prize being the lucrative public contracts.

The government, with the excuse of reforming ERT and righting the longlasting wrongs -which they themselves have created- is trying to exert the ultimate control over the public broadcaster.

Apart from the 2,656 employees, who have effectively been fired and can later apply for a job in the new company –which will “hire” only 1,000– this is about democracy, freedom and quality of information and ultimately about the resignation of an authoritarian government.

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This is how Greece became the only EU country without a public broadcaster. by Anna Papoutsi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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