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ERT’s discontinuation is a European precedent

14 June 2013 / 19:06:35  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

"We are here to show the Minister of Finance a letter in which 51 directors of public broadcasters in Europe are insisting on the restoration of ERT’s signal," said President of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) Jean-Paul Philippot in Athens. He arrived at the Greek capital city, together with EBU Director General of the Union, Ingrid Deltenre, at the invitation of employees of the now discontinued state broadcaster ERT.

At the press conference, which was convened at ERT’s building in Athens, both of them said that the way in which the Greek government discontinued the state media is a precedent in Europe. "The only time when something like this has ever happened was after the German reunification, but the discontinuation at the time lasted only for a night," said the EBU’s Director General. She reproached the government for appointing only people close to the government in important positions, but is now accusing the state media of financial scandals and waste of resources.

This was the only trenchant commentary on their part. The two representatives of EBU stated that their visit is not aimed at the provision of shelter to ERT, although they showed generous support to former employees of the media. "We are here just for the discontinuation of the signal. Political debates do not concern us. Our goal is a public television in Greece that is independent, transparent, pluralist and stable in terms of any point of view," said Philippot. His comment on whether the organisation has been aware of ERT’s corruption scandals and judicial investigations of mismanagement was that "no one is faultless, but we are here not to talk about the past, but about the future."

For two days, EBU’s network has been broadcasting ERT’s programme across Europe. Representatives of the organisation said that they are ready to deal with possible problems of legal nature. This clarification was made in connection with the Greek Ministry of Finance’s warning about the imposition of sanctions on televisions broadcasting ERT’s signal.

They refused to comment on the government bill for the establishment of a new public media, arguing that they have not got familiar with it yet. In conclusion, Philippot and Delterne said that they will work together with the leadership of the Greek public TV and radio that will be appointed by the government, fulfilling EBU’s main goals: to provide technical and other advice and support to its members.

Meanwhile, the hackers from Anonymous fulfilled their threat and attacked the websites of the Athens Court of Appeal and Greek Parliament. They uploaded a video on the Court’s site with the message: "You must know that you are our target now. You should expect us on 15 June. We are Anonymous. We do not forgive, we do not forget. Expect us, Greek government." Together with this, they uploaded a window through which those who want may watch the programme of ERT’s protesting employees.

Earlier on Friday, a bitter dispute broke out in parliament between leader of the radical left wing SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras. The Minister replied to severe attacks by the opposition leader that "ERT has stopped in the pits for a repair," and assured that its employees will receive compensations and determined the government's decision as "a bold and necessary step towards transparency and healing of the media".

The trade unions of press workers are relentless and are continuing their strike in all media except those reflecting what is happening in ERT and the marathon it is broadcasting, access to which is only allowed to those supporting the protest of employees. Thus, there is a paradox: only SYRIZA’s radio and the television of the Communist Party are working. They have recently made redundant dozens of employees because of budget cuts.

The decision of the Supreme Administrative Court is expected on Monday. It will determine whether ERT’s discontinuation meets the constitution’s regulations. The meeting of senior judiciary members will take place almost at the same time as the meeting of leaders of the ruling coalition.

Tags: Media ERT state broadcaster EBU Anonymous
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