It became a political football match after its abrupt closure. Now Greece’s public ERT broadcaster has grown into a political cause. The Democratic Left party became the government’s second coalition partner to reject a compromise agreement from Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. He had offered to re-hire a smaller number of staff to resume news broadcasts.
Opponents of the shutdown are adamant that the public service broadcaster must re-open before any restructuring, piling pressure on the fragile coalition ahead of a crucial meeting on Monday with the PM.
“What the government of Samaras is doing is unacceptable, nothing similar has been done anywhere in the world. The workers will prevent this, they will not allow this new channel to open,” said ERT producer Kostas Karpouzos
The station’s closure could create a revenue stream for the government with some arguing the real reason behind the shutdown is to sell off its frequencies to private broadcasters, as economist Stavros Papayannis explained.
“I think the government is afraid because of the reaction of the people and the workers. They are still trying to sell off the state TV; their target is the frequencies, as ERT is the only one transmitting on legal frequencies. They want to give these to the private sector and have them serve the interests of the government.”
As the protesters make their voice heard on the streets of Athens, reports and news bulletins are being compiled by journalists and technicians inside the building for the fifth successive day. Their work is streamed on the Internet garnering support from across the globe.