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Greek society loses confidence in the media

15 September 2011 / 23:09:15  GRReporter
4836 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova 

The Greek government adopted a reorganization plan for the national broadcaster ERT today. According to it the first television channel ET1 will cease broadcast after the vote on the decision by parliament. 

According to sources, the plan provides that the state media personnel will be evaluated by a committee and 10 percent of employees will be switched to labor reserve. The number of employees with temporary contracts will be reduced by half. 

While the ministers discussed the fate of the state media about 300 journalists, technicians and administrative staff from ERT held a protest outside parliament against the plan to cut costs and personnel. 

Initially, the protest went peacefully. EPT employees gathered on the sidewalk in front of parliament and shouted slogans against the reforms and the government spokesman Ilias Mosialos. 

Asked by GRReporter on feel it feels to be participating in a protest reporters said that "the feeling on the opposite side is very strange”. One of the organizers of the protest, appointed on a temporary contract, said it is unacceptable that they should lose their jobs now, "a few months after we were approved by a commission, which decided that our work is crucial to the functions of ERT". 

Among journalists, there were also older colleagues who had a real insight into the coming changes. "We are aware that decisions are made and it is a matter of time to be implemented. But nevertheless we decided to show out discontent from it" said a journalist who has been working in EPT since 1984. According to regulations promulgated by the government first in the list will be employees who are about to retire. 

Trade union leader of workers in ERT Panagiotis Kalfagianis said that "we will not allow the closure of a profitable company", adding that "ERT will not become a victim of the government and the Troika." 

Quarrel between the protesters and police officers started when they wanted to persuade them to move down the sidewalk in order not to interfere with traffic at the entrance of the parliament. Some of the protesters refused, and later on all tried to block Vasilisis Sofias avenue. Officers tried to persuade ERT protesters to return to the sidewalk, but when they saw that they have no such intentions, they started pushing them back with their shields. 

Meanwhile, according to a report of the international organization Reporters Without Borders during the last three years, Greece has been going downhill on the list for freedom of speech. From 31st place in 2008, today the country is on the 70th, which it shares with Bulgaria. According to the organization that breakneck decline is mainly due to the clientelist system that dates back to the 80s of the 20th century. 

The report states that economic and financial crisis has brought to the fore weaknesses and practices of a truncated media market. The existence of media groups is threatened by funding and weakened by the fact that they are supported in a fake way. The Greek press is concentrated in the hands of big businessmen and ship owners and the waves of layoffs bring feelings of insecurity among journalists. 

Reporters Without Borders shows that on the background of total distrust and social violence in Greece, to be a journalist, photographer or operator can at times be a very dangerous job. In order to reflect events during clashes between police and protesters in Athens, media professionals must be equipped with gas masks and helmets, because thrown objects from all sides as stones, pieces of marble and Molotov bombs can easily become deadly weapons. During the heavy clashes on Syntagma Square in June, a photographer went deaf after a bomb thrown by a policeman exploded next to him. According to the photographer this was an attack and not an accident. Often, police see reporters as enemies, because they show pictures of their actions against the crowd. Beatings, threats and obscene expressions against women - photographers are a cruel reality. 

Working conditions in Greek stadiums also remind reminiscent of a battlefield. Corruption, match-fixing and illegal gambling hardly tolerate the presence of "foreign figures" that could represent the reality of the audience. Threats and "confiscation" of cameras there, is not rare.

Tags: Greece media protests
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