MPs from the newly elected Greek leftist led, SYRIZA – Independent Greeks (ANEL) coalition government have voted earlier today to reinstate the country’s public broadcaster, ERT, which was suddenly shut down almost two years ago, as part of the previous government’s austerity measures. ERT’s closure after 60 years on air, caused then the firm reaction of the European Broadcasting Union and Greece’s top administrative court, while the decision was internationally criticized.
Today, the Greek Parliament voted to rehire more than 1,550 ERT (Hellenic Public Broadcaster) employees who have been fired and incorporate a protest TV station airing online by the fired workers. The bill to re-open ERT was supported from SYRIZA and ANEL at the vote held this morning, while the main opposition New Democracy voted against the legislation. The law states that ERT will cost 60 million euros a year and be covered by fees set at three euros per month. “This government is determined to put an end to the black screen. This government of the left is re-opening ERT,” SYRIZA MP Giorgos Pantzas highlighted hours before the law was passed. According to the first estimations some 2,300 people would form the new ERT.
On June 11, 2013, the Greek government announced ERT would close and all its employees would be fired. The Greek public broadcaster was dissolved by a Common Ministerial Decision as amended by an urgent government legislative act. Despite running a budget surplus on income from a license fee outside the state budget, in a televised statement, the at the time minister responsible for media and New Democracy, PASOK and Democratic Left (DIMAR) coalition government spokesperson Simos Kedikoglou, characterized ERT as a “haven of waste” that cost more and had fewer viewers than private stations. “The Greek people are paying for ERT, which has three times, even eight times, as much staff as it needs” he said, adding that the government was sacrificing one of the public sector’s “sacred cows.”
Later in the evening, riot police forced their way into the transmitting stations and all ERT transmitters were closed down. Using satellite offices and other spaces that had not been closed down, ERT journalists continued to broadcast to the Internet.
ERT consisted of five TV channels — ET-1, NET, ET-3, ERT World and ERT-HD — as well as seven radio stations in Athens, three in Thessaloniki, 19 peripheral radio stations across the country, a symphonic orchestra and one of modern music as well as a choir. It also had magazines, and a website www.ert.gr, digital archives, web TV at www.ert.gr/webtv, some 2,324 regular employees and 792 provisional workers.
After its closure ERT was replaced by a NEW state-owned entity, NERIT.