title: 'Greek unions call general strike to protest broadcaster closure' published: true publish_date: '31-08-2016 14:56' taxonomy: category:

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    The Greek government shut down Greece’s public broadcaster ERT on Tuesday night, calling it a "haven of waste". The unprecedented move, which the government said was part of a cost-cutting drive, has been met with defiance, as ERT journalists have continued broadcasting on the internet. VoR’s Nima Green reports. To learn more about the Greek government's surprise decision to shut down state broadcaster ERT VoR's Tim Ecott speaks to Lefteris Moissiaddis, a journalist and communications specialist in Athens. Download Nearly 2,700 jobs have been cut and re-transmission won’t happen for three months, which has been condemned by pro-democracy campaigners around the world. Thousands of protesters gathered outside ERT’s headquarters in Athens after their TV screens went black, to protest against Greek state TV and radio being pulled off the air late last Tuesday night, at 11.10pm local time. Widespread dismay ERT journalists reacted with anger and dismay as they found out just a couple of hours before they went on air that their jobs had been cut, and that their company was being disbanded. It ran three domestic TV channels, four national radio stations, 19 regional radio stations and an external service, the Voice of Greece. Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, a former ERT journalist, said the agency cost too much, was mismanaged and will be radically re-structured whilst all jobs are suspended. However, the move has been widely criticised as un-democratic, and riot police have been deployed in Athens, as the protests are expected to continue. Marc Gruber is the Director of the European Federation of Journalists. He said that the decision is a drastic step, which was taken without any public consultation. Some journalists have refused to vacate ERT buildings and are continuing to broadcast via digital frequencies and the Internet, whilst denouncing Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. However, despite their defiance, it is unclear how many will be able to regain their jobs. In April, the Greek parliament passed a bill which will see 15,000 state jobs cut by the end of next year. EU, IMF-backed austerity The law was a condition for Greece to receive its next set of international loans worth 8.8bn euros from the troika of the EU, ECB and the IMF. A new bill has been announced to replace ERT with a broadcaster called NERIT SA, which will re-launch at the end of August with a substantially reduced budget of 100 million euros a year, down from 300 million euros. Revenues will continue to stem from levies collected through electricity bills, though the amount was not specified. Previously every Greek taxpayer paid 4 euros a month whether they had a TV or not. Nick Malkoutzis is the Deputy Editor of the English Edition of Kathimerininewspaper in Athens. He said that some sort of restructuring was inevitable. However he said that the government has not handled the reforms well. New agency Many pro-democracy campaigners say that at a time of social and financial difficulty in Greece and the EU, the public needs a public information broadcaster more than ever. The future of Greek public broadcasting rests on how the government will restructure the new NERIT agency. Nick Malkoutziz says there is a great deal of public suspicion Greece's two largest labour unions have called a 24-hour general strike for Thursday, to protest the government's decision. A spokesperson said that Prime Minister Samaras has underestimated how big a backlash silencing the voice of Greek public broadcasting will create.

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