Friday, June 14, 2013

Greek Public TV workers refuse to shut down public TV service

Austericide almost caught up with ERT, the Greek public TV this week when the conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras decided to shut it down. But the workers weren't ready to shut it down. So they kept it open as an act of protest and self-defense. Other workers staged a solidarity strike in support of the ERT workers.

Graeme Wearden reports in Greece's state broadcaster defies government closure; RBS boss in shock resignation - as it happened Guardian 06/12/2013, " the decision has caused a major political row in Athens. The junior partners in the Greek coalition are refusing to support the measure, while opposition leader Alexis Tsipras launched a stinging attack on the move."

Renee Maltezou reports for Reuters in Defying shutdown, Greece's ERT runs bootleg news online 06/13/2013:

For roughly 600 ERT journalists who found themselves out of a job when the government abruptly switched off the signal on Tuesday, the move was nothing short of a coup.

Some defied management orders to leave the building and are broadcasting a bootleg news channel over the Internet in a sit-in atmosphere with conscious parallels to the protests in Istanbul's Taksim Square in neighboring Turkey.

"Athens proudly sends its greetings to Istanbul," a banner on ERT's courtyard fence proclaims.
Euronews reports in ERT closure risks toppling Greek government 06/14/2013:

Yanis Varoufakis has been blogging about ERT. In Why am I defending a public broadcaster (ERT) that banned me, and which I always considred [sic] problematic?, he explains:

ERT has been part of Greece's woodwork since the 1930s. Ancient recordings of its announcement that Nazi troops were about to enter its Athens headquarters are still played back on the 28th of October commemoration of Greece’s Second World War experience. Up until 1989 ERT held a total monopoly of television and radio. Most of us grew up at best mistrusting it and at worst loathing it, as a propaganda instrument of the state. Yet, once a torrent of commercial media was unleashed in the 1990s, and they quickly turned into Berlusconi-esque temples of motivated superficiality, ERT's stale, old-fashioned ways, while never loved, provided a kind of anchor in a sea of lifestyle vulgarity.
And he articulates the need for public television:

[H]owever stale, inefficient, even corrupt our public media organisations may be, they are essential to a well functioning society. In our stratified societies the legal system, for instance, is arguably unfair toward the weaker members of society who cannot afford the top lawyers or who are inarticulate. Even in the most civilised society, courts offer us nothing more than a chance of justice. There are no guarantees of it. Similarly with our public education systems. Frequently, they serve the interests of the middle class better than those who truly need public education. Nevertheless, this is no reason to close down the courts or our public schools.

Similarly with public television and radio: they offer us no guarantee of current and affairs pluralism and cultural diversity. What they offer us is merely a chance of it. A chance for an electronic public space were values are irreducible to prices and voices can be heard that annoy our society’s high and mighty. [italics in original]
In ERT (Greek state tv-radio) is dead: A blacklisted person’s lament, he warns people to watch out for similar neoliberal schemes to decimate public TV elsewhere:

For whatever the faults of our public broadcaster, however suggestible its producers may be to government officials, our public media are the only chance we have of news, current affairs and cultural programs that run through audiences as a civilising force. Our only possibility of programs that are provided for their contents’ worth, packing values that are irreducible to prices and advertising revenues.

Naturally, public media can be terrible. Just like public schools and hospitals, even the public system of justice and the courts, can be awful. Still, public media offer us (like public schools, courts and hospitals) a shot at civilising our social world. Without them, we are at the mercy of the Rupert Murdochs of the planet who, having heard of the Greek government’s decision, are surely getting nasty ideas on how the Greek model can be exported to Britain (BBC beware!), to Australia (ABC you are next!), to everywhere there is money to be made from dismantling public media.
And he tells some of the story of the occupation in A night at occupied ERT. A night to remember. A night that friends at the BBC, ABC, CBC ought to note 06/12/2013.

Here are additional video reports on the events.

v7 2013 06 13 Europa resiste el cierre de la TV Pública griega TV Pública argentina 13.06.2013:

Death of state TV brings Greece to a standstill Euronews 06/13/2013:

Greek PM set to meet coalition partners over ERT protests Euronews 06/13/2013:

Greece: politicians join outcry over ERT switch-off Euronews 06/13/2013:

Belgian journalists protest at Greek TV station closure Euronews 06/13/2013:

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