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Greek Government Abruptly Shuts Down State Broadcaster 230

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-dark dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Greek government shut down broadcasting of all TV and radio channels operated by the state-owned broadcaster ERT at midnight local time, with police ejecting journalists and other employees occupying the building. The above link is a prominent Greek economics professor's (and Valve's in-house economist) analysis of the political motivations for the move."
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Greek Government Abruptly Shuts Down State Broadcaster

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  • by atom1c (2868995)

    I wonder if that means lower taxes...

    • by noh8rz10 (2716597) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @12:29AM (#43982021)
      meanwhile, in USA, I have 4 channels that are showing the Kardashians at this very moment.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @03:36AM (#43982779)

        We have those same 4 channels in Greece too. It's just that we lost the one that didn't show them.

        • So they shut down the quality-news-broadcast network and set free a pile of professionals, some of them well known I guess.
          Will that mean that Greece will now emerge getting a professional quality-news-podcast-network and will that mean that there has to be a reason to shut down the internets, too?

      • by Jawnn (445279) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @08:49AM (#43984325)

        meanwhile, in USA, I have 4 channels that are showing the Kardashians at this very moment.

        Panem et circenses...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @12:15AM (#43981957)

    This particular article's summary just states the facts. There is no stated point-of-view in the summary! All Slashdot submissions must have a POV! Please, Help! tell me what to think! Heeeeelp!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by crutchy (1949900)

      repeat after me... "apple is gay"

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I'd have modded that "funny" but funny comments are dangerous to your karma. Thin skinned Apple fans are surely not going to laugh at it, and they get mod points, too.

    • by jfengel (409917)

      There is a point of view there, expressed in terms of which facts they included and which ones they left out. It's just that it doesn't tell you whom to hate, which is what "point of view" has come to mean in America.

  • by TWX (665546) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @12:31AM (#43982033)
    That's kind of weird. We hear about governments shutting down all broadcast media other than state-owned media so often that the opposite is just...bizarre...

    What's the rest of Greece's commercial broadcast media like? What was this organization like? The only analogues I have are NPR and PBS for "state owned" and that's not necessarily entirely accurate, and that private broadcast media here in the US is often very, very heavily biased, even moreso when they make claims to the contrary.
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      What's the rest of Greece's commercial broadcast media like?.

      There you have it [wikipedia.org]

    • by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @01:43AM (#43982341) Journal

      The only analogues I have are NPR and PBS for "state owned"

      BBC in the UK, ABC/SBS in Oz. Note that there is an important distinction between "state owned" and "state controlled".

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        I'm envious. I wish the UK government would shut down the BBC.
        • by digitig (1056110)
          You are Rupert Murdoch, and I claim my £5.
        • by dkleinsc (563838)

          Why exactly do you want to shut down the BBC? My understanding is that the existence of the BBC is widely supported by people living in Britain, despite serious incidents (e.g. Jimmy Savile) and grumbling about licensing fees, because it has a world-wide reputation for accurate, relatively unbiased, and high quality reporting.

          The alternative to the BBC is Rupert Murdoch's News International, who's most recent claim to fame was hacking the phones of murder victims and politicians in order to break stories ab

          • See my answer to AC for more details but the BBC news has repeatedly been shown to be biased. They themselves have acknowledged that to some extent. The quality of other programmes is generally very poor. It would be more accurate to say I want to abolish the license fee rather than shut down the BBC. The alternative is for anyone who wants to try and run a commercial channel. With digital technology it's probably never been more achievable.
            • by slim (1652)

              BBC news has repeatedly been shown to be biased.
              [...]
              The quality of other programmes is generally very poor.

              In both cases, compared to what other broadcaster?

              I don't see a commercial broadcaster in the UK, waiting in the wings, that's more balanced than the BBC. All newspapers have a bias (which their readership likes), and so would any commercial news broadcaster that popped up to fill the void left by the BBC.

              The BBC is usually accused of bias by right-wingers who would like it to be more sympathetic to right-wing views. As a left-winger, I find it often too sympathetic towards right-wing views. That's a sign o

            • by Cederic (9623)

              See my answer to AC for more details but the BBC news has repeatedly been shown to be biased.

              The BBC are consistently biased, but that bias swings in every direction.

              Overall there's inevitably going to be an element of bias, but on the whole I think they cover most issues from most angles and give a lot of airtime to very conflicting viewpoints.

              I hate paying the licence fee but I'd rather keep the BBC completely independent of commercial necessity - sadly they're not completely independent, but by not having to compete with the other commercial channels they've kept the average quality of UK TV ve

          • by jez9999 (618189)

            because it has a world-wide reputation for accurate, relatively unbiased, and high quality reporting.

            A reputation that is has long-since lost the justification for. Maybe it's unbiased compared to Fox News, but that only shows how utterly pathetic mainstream US media is.

            • by slim (1652)

              because it has a world-wide reputation for accurate, relatively unbiased, and high quality reporting.

              A reputation that is has long-since lost the justification for. Maybe it's unbiased compared to Fox News, but that only shows how utterly pathetic mainstream US media is.

              What TV news broadcaster do you feel is less biased than the BBC? I can't think of one.

      • Note that there is an important distinction between "state owned" and "state controlled"

        And "state supported". NPR and PBS are neither owned nor controlled by the government; they simply get some (not all) of their funding from it.

    • by mvar (1386987) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @01:49AM (#43982367)

      What's the rest of Greece's commercial broadcast media like?

      same as the rest of the worlds: Owned by the rich and serving their interests by promoting political views and pressuring the government "in the right direction"

      • by Jiro (131519)

        As opposed to state-owned media, which are owned by poor governments, don't serve the interests of their owners, and don't promote political views.

        At least if the station is privately owned, there are several of them with somewhat different owners. And you can turn them off without being forced to pay for them.

        • by ultranova (717540)

          At least if the station is privately owned, there are several of them with somewhat different owners.

          And they're all called Rubert Murdoch.

          And you can turn them off without being forced to pay for them.

          No, you can't. Apart from direct subsidies there's the whole licensing system that allocates spectrum to those stations, and requires enforcement - can't have unlicensed pirate stations, after all. And as a completely unintended side effect means that stations only operate as long as they get the government

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            No, you can't.

            Don't be stupid, yes you can. No one is forcing you to watch TV. I can't even remember the last time I watched broadcast TV; my TV does nothing these days except to serve as a Netflix viewing device.

            Apart from direct subsidies there's the whole licensing system that allocates spectrum to those stations, and requires enforcement - can't have unlicensed pirate stations, after all. And as a completely unintended side effect means that stations only operate as long as they get the government's b

        • by mvar (1386987)
          nobody said state-owned media are any better
  • As a Greek (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @12:43AM (#43982071)

    i should tell you that i feel very happy about that decision
    * They said that the "ERT tax" on power bills will be over (it was about 10-30% of the bill, depending on the size of the bill, believe it or not!)
    * In the same time that they ask for minimum wage to be lower than 500euros/month, they were hiring journalists with ten times this wage in order to control them. You can read about that in Varoufakis blog.

    • Apparently it's not calculated as a % of whatever the monthly bill is, it's a fixed amount of 4.30 euros (approx US$ 5.75).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As a Greek myself I have to tell the world that you are lying!
      10-30%??? it is more like 4 -5 euros per bill which comes 6 times a year.

      • by rioki (1328185)

        WOW that is cheap. In Germany you pay 18 EUR per month for public television and radio.

  • House Of Corruption (Score:5, Informative)

    by master_p (608214) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @01:14AM (#43982211)

    ERT was a House Of Corruption. It should have been shut down years ago.

    Not only was it a propaganda station, but it was also full of employees that did not have a job description, but they were employed by politicians in order to vote for them.

    2500 employees for 3 channels and 1 radio station.

  • State-owned television is too transparent.

    Better to have state-licensed, state-influenced, and state-monitored television... It's clearly much more effective.

  • by OhANameWhatName (2688401) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @01:39AM (#43982327)
    Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.
    ... John Adams [wikipedia.org]
  • by Camael (1048726) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @04:21AM (#43982901)

    In TFA, Varoufakis talks about the value of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, or ERT to Greece.

    In light of the well publicised financial problems faced by the government in Greece today, can Greece affored to keep it open?

    The government's excuse is thus :-

    Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou – a former state TV journalist – described ERT as a "haven of waste". He said its employees would be compensated.

    Kedikoglou said in a televised statement aired on the state broadcaster: "At a time when the Greek people are enduring sacrifices, there is no room for delay, hesitation or tolerance for sacred cows.

    "ERT is a typical example of unique lack of transparency and incredible waste. And that ends today," Kedikoglou said. "It costs three to seven times as much as other TV stations and four to six times the personnel – for a very small viewership, about half that of an average private station."

    ERT has long been seen as a bastion of quality programming in a media landscape dominated by commercial stations. But it was also used by successive governments to provide safe jobs for political favourites, and, while nominally independent, devoted considerable time and effort to showcasing administration policies.

    Source here [guardian.co.uk]

    Granted the government's self-interest is to spin this story in their favour, but unless they are lying, given the fact that there are more urgent public sector needs that need to be met (eg. hospitals, food kitchens etc) the reasons they gave seem fairly reasonable in the circumstances.

    • Granted the government's self-interest is to spin this story in their favour, but unless they are lying, given the fact that there are more urgent public sector needs that need to be met (eg. hospitals, food kitchens etc) the reasons they gave seem fairly reasonable in the circumstances.

      There's nothing reasonable about pulling the plug on a national broadcaster, without notice, in the middle of the night, and turfing every employee out unilaterally onto the street. This is industrial relations amateur hour.

  • The bigger picture (Score:5, Informative)

    by cynop (2023642) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @04:25AM (#43982913)

    Ok so here's a bigger picture of what led to the shut down.
    1) The ERT (National Radio) was a way for decades for the goverment to reward supporters with well-payed tenured jobs.
    2) As a result, there are hundreds of people working there who get payed for menial tasks.
    3) The Troika has demanded that about 2500 people working for the public sector will be fired before the end of June. 150.000 before the end of 2014.
    4) A large privatisation programme that was a requirement from the Troika to continue the Greek bail out failed on Monday (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/jun/10/greek-gas-supplier-selloff-gazprom )

    As a result shutting down ERT hits two birds with one stone: It allows them to fire more than the minimum 2500 that was required, and also distracts the public opinion from mondays failure that is sure to bring more austerity measures. The goverment claims that the shutdown was justified because of the corruption and thriftlessness of the organization, while the governing party was the one that helped create them.

    • by slim (1652)

      Meanwhile this doesn't just affect the thousands of people directly employed by ERT, and their families. It affects every drugstore, cafe, grocery those people shop at; their landlords and mortgage lenders. Sizeable local economies build up around a big employer like that, and that one has been wrecked in one fell swoop.

  • by prefec2 (875483) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @05:17AM (#43983137)

    I do not speak Greek or are able to evaluate the quality of the public TV-station there, but I know that in Germany the public TV plays an important role in fighting dumb TV for the masses with some of their information programs (even though they also provide shows which can only be watched if you had a lobotomy, just like the US TV ;-)). So from that point of view, I think this is a bad move for Greece. The Greek should start a new public TV station funded by the public and controlled by a council where every group of the Greek population has a seat in (no payments) and they have to agree on consensus on elections for directors. that will realize an independent media house, which is in high demand in Greece (and the rest of Europe).

    BTW: I personally do not like the way Greece have been treated by the rest of the EU, especially Merkel, but I also think, they should get rid of their present politicians and demand more public influence in all processes. A little like Switzerland.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @07:20AM (#43983697)

    1. It was one of the worst channels on greek TV and I doubt anyone will miss it
    2. Since always everyone was complaining about the fee they had to pay for it every month. Saying I dont want to pay for state television is the same as saying it should close down. Now all the people who side with the ones fired from ERT are just a pretentious mass. They didn't support ERT when it was working, now they can't act all high and mighty and on their side because it closed
    3. ERT was another corrupted part of the public sector. It was a channel with horrible censorship and with people in higher positions paid more than they should've been. There were more than a few incidents when ERT refused to show things in the news that ALL the other channels were showing. As someone put it "ERT, you weren't there for us when all of that was already happening to us for years now, why should be there for you?"
    4. Comparing ERT to the BBC/CNN is a horrible insult for both of these channels. ERT was worse than FOX news and people complaining about how greece is left only with private channels don't seem to understand that all those private channels are and have always been much better than the mess that ERT was.

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