Greece to temporarily close state broadcaster to save money

Wednesday 12 June 2013 06.26
A Greek government spokesman said TV and radio signals will go dead tomorrow while employees vow to keep it on air
A Greek government spokesman said TV and radio signals will go dead tomorrow while employees vow to keep it on air

Greece is to temporarily close down all its state-run TV and radio stations with the loss of some 2,500 jobs.

The move is part of its cost-cutting drive demanded by the bailed-out country's international creditors.

Both minority partners in the governing coalition condemned the suspension of Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, or ERT.

Nonetheless, Greek government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, a former state TV journalist, described ERT as a "haven of waste".

He said its TV and radio signals would go dead at midnight.

Some of the channels appeared to shut down even before the deadline.

Mr Kedikoglou said its 2,600 employees will be compensated and the company will reopen "as soon as possible" with a smaller workforce.

It was not immediately clear how long that would take.

Mr Kedikoglou said: "ERT is a typical example of unique lack of transparency and incredible waste. And that ends today."

He 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."

It is the first case of mass public sector layoffs in the recession-hit country.

The country has pledged to cut 15,000 state jobs by 2015 as part of its bailout commitments.

Greece has depended on rescue loans from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund since May 2010.

In exchange, it imposed deeply resented income cuts and tax hikes, which exacerbated a crippling recession and forced tens of thousands of businesses to close, sending unemployment to a record of 27%.

Greece's POESY media union accused the government of sacrificing the broadcaster to appease its creditors.

Unions representing ERT workers at three terrestrial TV stations, one satellite station and its national and regional radio network said they would keep the stations on the air.

Protesting employees gathered at the company headquarters in the Athens suburb of Aghia Paraskevi, together with opposition politicians and union leaders.