Samaras OK’s Temporary ERT Broadcast

ert_3arxigoiHounded by howls of protests within Greece and Europe over the closing of the national broadcaster ERT to meet demands by international lenders to start firing public servants, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has reportedly agreed to let information programs resume with a limited staff until a new, pared-down operation begins later in the summer.

Greek media reported that Samaras offered to partially reinstate ERT after vehement protests over its dramatic closure threatened to derail his government as screens went blank across the country for the stations that ERT carried, as well as throughout the Diaspora where it was carried.

The New Democracy Conservative leader is being pressed by his coalition partners, the PASOK Socialists and tiny Democratic Left (DIMAR) not to close the station that for generations has been a haven for patronage hires that had grown so unwieldy that the Premier said it had become wasteful and obsolete.

“A temporary committee … can be appointed to hire a small number of (ERT) employees, so that the broadcast of information programs can begin immediately,” Samaras said in a statement.

A DIMAR spokesman said his party had rejected similar proposals hours earlier for a compromise operation of ERT until the new station was formed.

“Mr. Samaras is clearly exerting pressure, with the aim of shifting the blame onto his coalition partners,” Gerassimos Georgatos told the Associated Press. “But he bears the exclusive responsibility, with his surprise move (to close ERT down).”  A PASOK statement also dismissed the prime minister’s proposal. Both minority partners want Samaras to rescind the decree closing ERT, and fully reopen it pending a waste-cutting overhaul.

The three party leaders are due to meet on June 17 for a crucial session that could decide what happens with ERT and the government itself.

Greece has been without news broadcasts for much of this week as other journalists went on indefinite strike over ERT’s closure, a move that also disrupted the reporting of school exam results.

Pressure had steadily grown on Samaras to reverse his decision, with his coalition allies digging in their heels and the European Broadcasting Union holding emergency meetings in Athens to demand ERT’s reopening.

“We ask the government to reverse this decision, we ask the government to reestablish the signal on TV, radio and web,” President Jean-Paul Philippot of the EBU, the world’s largest association of national broadcasters, told a news conference..

Samaras made the offer ahead of a meeting on June 17 with PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and DIMAR chief Fotis Kouvelis who opposed the shutdown of ERT. The signal was cut on June 11, with the agency’s 2,656 given five minutes notice that every one would be fired, but that 1000-1200 would be rehired to run the new venture to be called NERIT.

Samaras urged his allies to “act responsibly” to avoid “mishaps” for Greece, hinting that a split over the issue could lead to a government collapse and early elections.

A poll published June 14 found that 65 percent of Greeks are against ERT’s closure, compared to 27 percent who back the move, and some 86 percent said they are dissatisfied with the government. The VPRC poll for Greece’s TVXS news website gave a 3.1 percent margin of error.

ERT employees and journalists were protesting on June 14 for a a fourth day after the shock decision, which saw the broadcaster shut down within hours of a government legislative act.

Hundreds of ERT staff have been staging sit-ins at company offices in major cities, while the main headquarters in Athens was running a rogue broadcast on the Internet and then through a European satellite pickup after its link with the Communist party TV channel was cut by the government.

The EBU has been re-transmitting ERT’s feed on its website, as are several Greek news outlets. Samaras’s administration is under heavy pressure from Greece’s international lenders, the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) to fire 2,500 workers by the end of June and 25,000 by the end of 2014.

ERT has a long history of nepotistic hiring practices and government-biased news coverage, but supporters said that it it also provides an invaluable link to the Greek diaspora, border areas and isolated islands.

“We are giving ERT a chance to be reborn …. the new entity will be reinstated very soon,” Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told Parliament, accusing the opposition of shedding “crocodile tears” for a hopelessly corrupt organization with low viewer ratings although he didn’t say that it was New Democracy and PASOK who packed the operation with needless workers in return for votes.

But the conservative-led government faced accusations of authoritarianism, and even fellow EU countries have expressed alarm while critics decried the move, done through an executive decree to bypass the Parliament as a “blow to democracy,” although ERT’s critics said it is a hopeless basket case that needed to be axed and revamped.


  1. “to meet demands by international lenders ”

    prodoti Samaras


    this is why there is a Greek “bailout”. it’s a German bailout

    Exclusive: Deutsche Bank ‘horribly undercapitalized’ – U.S. regulator

    A top U.S. banking regulator called Deutsche Bank’s capital levels “horrible” and said it is the worst on a list of global banks based on one measurement of leverage ratios.

    “It’s horrible, I mean they’re horribly undercapitalized,” said Federal Deposit Insurance Corp Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig in an interview. “They have no margin of error.”

    Hoenig, who is second-in-command at the regulator, said global capital rules, known as the Basel III accord, allow lenders to appear well-capitalized when they are not. That is because the rules allow the banks to use complicated measurements of how risky their loans are to determine the capital they must hold, he said.

    But using a tougher leverage ratio measurement – which compares a bank’s shareholder equity to its total assets without using risk-weightings – the picture for banks such as Deutsche Bank is very different, he said.

    Deutsche Bank this year is almost done raising 5 billion euros ($6.67 billion) in new debt and equity, boosting its core capital ratio to around 9.5 percent, which it says has made it one of the best-capitalized banks among its peers.

    “To say that we are undercapitalized is inaccurate because if you look at the Basel framework, we’re now one of the best capitalized banks in the world after our capital raise,” Deutsche Bank’s Chief Financial Officer Stefan Krause told Reuters in an interview, when asked about Hoenig’s comments.

    “To suggest that leverage puts us in a position to be a risk to the system is incorrect,” Krause said, calling the gauge a “misleading measure” when used on its own.

    Deutsche’s leverage ratio stood at 1.63 percent, according to Hoenig’s numbers, which are based on European IFRS accounting rules as of the end of 2012.

    Deutsche said the number now stands at 2.1 percent but that it does not look at the gauge. Using U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, the ratio stood at a much more comfortable 4.5 percent, Krause said.


    The difference is due to the way derivatives on a bank’s books are measured. Neither number directly corresponds to the Basel leverage ratio, which calculates capital in another way and sets a 3 percent minimum.

    The FDIC – which guarantees deposits at U.S. banks – stressed that Hoenig was speaking in a personal capacity and that the agency did not comment on individual banks.

    Hoenig staked out a reputation as a dissenting voice against the Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis when he was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

    He’s also an outspoken critic of the Basel III rules – introduced globally after the crisis – which he says do not do enough to reduce the size of the riskiest banks and are easy for them to game.

    Other banks with a low ratio, according to Hoenig, are UBS at 2.52 percent, Morgan Stanley at 2.55 percent, Credit Agricole at 2.72 percent and Societe Generale at 2.84 percent.

    Detailed rules for Basel III, which other U.S. politicians and regulators have questioned, are expected to come out in the United States in the next few months, well past the January deadline agreed upon internationally.


    Hoenig pointed to the gain in Deutsche Bank shares in January on the same day it posted a big quarterly loss, because it had improved its Basel III capital ratios by cutting risk-weighted assets.

    “My other example with poor Deutsche Bank is that they lose $2 billion and raise their capital ratio. It’s – I don’t want to say insane, but it’s ridiculous,” Hoenig said.

    A leverage ratio is a better method to show a firm’s ability to absorb sudden losses, Hoenig says, and he has floated a plan to raise the ratio to 10 percent. He said the 3 percent leverage hurdle under Basel was a “pretend number.”

    Opponents of using such a ratio say that it ignores the risk in a bank’s loan books, and can make a bank with only healthy borrowers look equally risky as a bank whose clients are less likely to pay back their loans.

    It also fails to take into account how easily a bank can sell its assets – so-called liquidity – or whether it is hedged against risk.

    Still, equity analysts said that while Deutsche Bank likely will meet regulatory capital requirements, its ratios look weak.

    “(The) capital raise was warmly received by the market,” Berenberg Bank said in a note this week. “However, we still remain concerned about the leverage in the business.”

    “To get above the 3 percent level (mandated by Basel), required by 2019, requires four years’ worth of profits and, in our view, delays dividends.”

    Greece is about to get an installment of 8 billion Euro. I’m going to assume that is their quarterly installment.

    Greece is running a primary deficit of about 6 billion Euro (as best as I can figure out). So that is 1.5 billion per quarter. So about 19 cents of every Euro of bailout money makes it way to fund Greece’s current overspending.

    As best as we can tell, Greek banks hold about 75 billion of debt and other Greek entities hold about 25 billion, bringing the total to 100 billion. Assuming about 350 billion in total debt (again somewhere in the ballpark), that means about 23 cents go to Greek entities as debt service. That number is a bit misleading, as much of this has been pledged to the ECB for funding, so although it supports the Greek banks, it also goes to the ECB.

    The ECB holds 55 billion of Greek bonds directly. So 18 cents of every Euro of the bailout goes to the ECB.

    The “market” and “bilateral loans” total about 175 billion from what we could find. This is a bit lower than the 205 billion the IIF is talking about, but seems in the right ballpark. So about 40 cents of every Euro of the bailout is used to service debt held by non Greek banks and financial institutions.

    We didn’t look at the specific maturities, and just used averages. To the extent Greek pension funds for example, hold longer dated maturities, less of the money is really going to them, but for now have assumed that each group holds a similarly balanced portfolio.

    We also haven’t figured out about the 90 billion of derivative exposures Greece has and whether any bailout money is being used to pay on those.

    In the end less than 19 cents of the bailout are going to allow Greece to continue its overspending. About 23 cents goes to Greek institutions, though at this point, all of that is held by the ECB, so it is not fully benefiting Greece.

    18 cents are going to the ECB directly and 40 cents are going to banks and insurance companies outside of Greece. So at least 58 cents of every bailout Euro is going outside of Greece, and depending on how you treat the repo agreements, that number could easily be 70 cents.

    So yes, Greece is getting a bailout, but you can see why Merkozy got so scared at the idea of a referendum. The bulk of the money that Greece is “getting” comes right back to the rest of the EU. Whatever posturing is going on, Greece will get away without meeting any of its stated goals, or at least it will until the EU decides it has written down enough principal and that the ECB can handle the shock.

    This is our first attempt at breaking down where the bailout money really goes. We have made a lot of assumptions and found data that seems sketchy at best, but will work on fixing any mistakes. We do think it is an interesting way to look at it, and confirms who really has the problem with a Greek default – and it’s not Greece.

  2. This is the best comment I’ve ever seen on this site. Do you have a link supporting your comments after the reuters article or is it personal speculation?

  3. Samaras and Venizelos and their “poodle dog” Kouvelis are the “Three Stooges”, and are a complete joke! None of these Thieves and Liars will leave their big salaried, high perks positions in the Coalition, the whole thing is a farce and fraud– as usual!

  4. Andy daBlogger, again give us bs.

    First of all, the EBU is a LOBBY group for PUBLIC BROADCASTERS which the ERT WAS A FOUNDING MEMBER. So it’s a mouth piece for MORE money for MORE public broadcasting. Their “protestations” is like a club of fat kids getting fatter on ice cream……and crying for more ice cream. ZERO credibility.

    And what did you Andy deBlogger? You quoted them without telling us that they very directly connected. The usual lefty trick of presenting highly bias and vested interest opinions as “news sources”.

    And WHICH EU countries have officially expressed alarm? All I can find is the usual whining by NGO “human rights” groups…..whose only existence is to whine.

    Now for something interesting….are you plagiarizing other news sites? Like this one?

  5. It’s common knowledge,or at least, it should be common knowledge that the “Greek” bailout was also a German and French bank bailout. Otherwise, why would we need so much money when our yearly shortfall is about 6 to 8 billion.

  6. looking at it from the perspective of the yearly shortfall is not the proper way to look at it. this does not take into account the rolling maturities due of various ggb’s, corporate bonds, and various derivative instruments tied to these bonds and loans.

    and since it is a german/french/wall st bailout, then why is that traitor samaras giving into their demands when it is they who are receiving the bailout. answer – because he’s a germanotsolia who cares nothing for the country other than enriching his plutocrat parasitic friends and his overlords over at the Euro and Wall St.


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