Protests in Greece after government shuts down public broadcaster
Shit’s going down with the media in Greece.
ERT, Greece’s state-owned public broadcasting corporation, has been suddenly shut down by the economically pressed government. A spokesperson from the government, Simos Kedikoglou, announced earlier today that the network will shut down shortly after midnight tonight, Greek time.
Over 2,500 Greek media workers will lose their jobs. While my friends in Greece agree that ERT does need reform, and better organization, suddenly shutting down a government service paid for by licence fees to the government is not the way to do it.
One of my friends on twitter expects that the protests will get even bigger if ERT does cease broadcasting tonight. I only hope the Greek government listens. Riot police are now set up around the perimeter of the ERT building and the people are concerned that things might get violent.
The main newscaster, Elli Stai (above), who has worked for almost 25 years in Greek media, looks visibly upset in the last newscast of the network airing right now. She got her start in ERT all those years ago, and I’d be teary-eyed too if I was about to be suddenly fired from a job I loved.
Oh, and one more thing: If ERT shuts down, Greece will most likely withdraw from Eurovision.
That fact nonwithstanding, this legitimately upsets me as a student journalist. Free media is under attack everywhere. It’s disheartening.
You can watch the probable last moments of ERT as we know it via livestream here (in Greek).
Update, 10:05PM EEST: The Greek Ministry of Finance, which runs ERT, has said that they will most certainly shut the network down at midnight Greek time. They may use police force to “defend the property”. The Finance Ministry said that ERT is officially defunct and should shut down now or the property will be seized by the police.
That is exactly what is happening.
Update 2, 10:25PM EEST: More accurately, the Finance Ministry said that ERT is officially defunct and should shut down now or the property will be seized by the police.
The Greek Journalist Union has also asked Simos Kedikoglou, the government spokesperson who announced this decision, to hand in his press pass. Shit just got real for Simos.
This is happening in front of ERT right now:
2,656 people are being laid off today.
Update 3, 10:55PM EEST: Riot police are on their way to shut down the transmitters. ERT is now officially off the air. The government is shutting down all of ERT’s channels. Goodbye, ERT. I barely knew you.
The stream, however, is still sort of working. It’ll likely be down within the hour.
Update 4, 11:05PM EEST: ERT transmitters in Thessaloniki are down so far thanks to Greek police. ERT transmitters being turned off also means the shut down of other international feeds that ERT manages, such as BBC, DW, TV5MONDE, etc.
Update 5, 11:15PM EEST: ERT transmitters in Athens are now also reportedly down. The online stream is still available, as well as the broadcast in Cyprus, reports say.
Update 6, 11:25PM EEST: The online stream seems to have died from the massive spike in viewership. Either that or it’s actually died for real.
I want to cry.
Update 7, 11:55PM EEST: ERT World is still broadcasting, if you have it on your cable provider. You can also find a stream here.
This’ll be it for me tonight, folks. Thanks for following along with me.
Long live ERT
Update 8, 9:00AM EEST: Just woke up to news that all media are on strike in Greece right now, headed by the Athens Journalists’ Union [source]. RTVE from Spain has a good feed from which you can watch ERT here
Update 9, 11:00AM EEST:.ERT is still broadcasting on other channels. Check twitter under the hashtag #ERT to see where they’re still broadcasting and for more updates on the situation.