Greece will temporarily shut down Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT), the radio and television company owned by the state as part of its initiative to save money. As a result, 2,500 individuals will end up jobless, according to a report from Nicholas Paphitis of the Associated Press.

Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation

Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation Future

The government of Greece promised that it will resume operations of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation as “soon as possible,” but its workforce will be smaller. The government did not provide further details if it will re-open all of its radio and TV stations, and how long the temporary closure will last.

The decision to shut down Greece’s state-owned media company demonstrates the country’s first layoffs in the public sector as the country continues to continue to endure a painful austerity. Greece has already lost almost 1 million private sector jobs.

Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation and Politics

Minority parties in Greece criticized its decision to the temporary shutdown of operations of Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation. More than 2,000 employees, anti-austerity activist, lawmakers, and union leaders protested at the headquarters of the company.

Socialist PASOK and the Democratic Left in Greece vowed to oppose the ministerial decree for the closure of Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation. The decree took effect immediately, but it still requires parliamentary approval.

Fofi Gennitama, a lawmaker said, “The decree will be retroactively invalidated, as we are not going to vote for it … but we want it to be immediately withdrawn.”

Simos Kedikoglou, a former state TV journalist and currently serving as spokesperson of the government, described Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation as a “haven of waste.”  He confirmed that the company will stop broadcasting on Wednesday, and said the 2,500 employees will receive compensation.

Kedikoglou explained, “ERT is a typical example of a unique lack of transparency and incredible waste. And that ends today. 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.”

On the other hand, Stavroula Christofiliea, one of the media practitioners at Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation said, “I was hoping up until the last minute that the reports were not true. It’s unbelievable.”

Since 2010, Greece has depended on bailout money provided by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Last year, the country received €130 billion to avoid default, but it was required to implements tax increases, budget cuts, and other measures, which resulted to the closure of thousands of businesses in the country. The unemployment rate in Greece reached a record high at 27 percent. The government agreed to cut 15,000 state jobs by 2015 as part of its bailout deal.