Arab Today, arab today greeks battle to stop axing of state broadcaster
Last Updated : GMT 23:54:55
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Greeks battle to stop axing of state broadcaster

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Greeks battle to stop axing of state broadcaster

Athens - AFP

Greek political parties and unions battled Wednesday to reverse the shutdown of state broadcaster ERT, a shock decision the government took to meet Greece\'s debt bailout requirements. The broadcaster\'s TV and radion stations were taken off the air after 2000 GMT on Tuesday and an affiliated Communist channel also went black later in the night. Greek opposition leader Alexis Tsipras will ask the country\'s President Carolos Papoulias on Wednesday to refuse to sign the order for ERT\'s demise, a move affecting nearly 2,700 jobs. Protest rallies have been called in support of the broadcaster\'s staff and unions are planning a general strike, reportedly for Thursday. Journalists have already called a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, except for stations airing a rogue broadcast maintained by ERT staffers. The decision to shut down ERT by conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras over the opposition of his socialist and moderate leftist allies in the government has sparked uproar in the country and abroad. Messages of support for the broadcaster have poured in from the Greek diaspora -- for whom ERT is a vital link to the homeland -- and the shutdown was strongly condemned by the head of the Orthodox Church of Greece. Archbishop Ieronymos said the state broadcaster had been \"violently\" terminated and thousands of ERT staffers were being \"sacrificed\" to pay for decades of wasteful administration.  He insisted that \"Healing an organisation is one thing, but killing it abruptly and violently is totally different.\" The government on Tuesday said ERT was a huge drain on public coffers and would reopen at a later stage under a new format and with considerably fewer employees. \"ERT is a case of an exceptional lack of transparency and incredible extravagance. This ends now,\" government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said at a news conference on Tuesday. His announcement comes after months of work stoppages by ERT employees in opposition to plans to restructure the broadcaster as demanded by debt-laden Greece\'s troika of international creditors. Athens has pledged to cut 4,000 state-sector jobs this year and 11,000 in 2014 to keep drawing rescue loans. Thousands rushed to ERT\'s main headquarters in a northern Athens suburb shortly after the closure announcement Tuesday to show their support for the broadcaster, and some 500 people also gathered outside the organisation\'s Thessaloniki branch in northern Greece.  The government said all 2,655 employees will be compensated and will be allowed to reapply for a job at a revamped organisation. The junior partners of Greece\'s three-party, conservative-led coalition government expressed opposition to the shock closure and refused to support it. \"We absolutely disagree with the government\'s particular decisions and management,\" the socialist Pasok party said. \"We will not vote in favour of the law validating this legislative act,\" the party added, and later called on the European Union to take a stand on the issue. The socialists insisted they had no intention of bringing down the coalition government. But the Samaras administration is already under pressure over an unpopular austerity programme applied to maintain Greece\'s access to EU-IMF loans.  

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