The European Broadcasting Union has urged the Greek prime minister to “use all his powers” to reverse a decision to close the territory’s public broadcaster ERT.
This week, the Greek government announced it was using emergency powers to temporarily close ERT as a cost cutting measure, in a bid to ease the country’s desperate financial situation as it remains locked in recession.
The pubcaster’s three domestic channels went black yesterday evening, leaving an estimated 2,500 people out of work. The BBC reported thousands were protesting the decision outside the ERT headquarters in Athens.
A government spokesperson said taxpayer-funded ERT displayed “an exceptional lack of transparency” and was an “incredible extravagance”.
The EBU later slammed the move in an open letter from its president Jean Paul Phillppot and director general Ingrid Deltenre. They claimed independent pubcasters “lie at the heart of democratic societies” and that far-reaching changes should only be the result of an “open and inclusive” public debate.
“While we recognise the need to make budgetary savings, national broadcasters are more important than ever at times of national difficulty. This is not to say that ERT need be managed less efficiently than a private company. Naturally, allpublic funds must be spent with the greatest of care,” they added.
Some ERT staff are reportedly still broadcasting a news service over the internet in defiance of the government’s move.
ERT has been a member of the European pubcaster association since its inception in 1950.
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