The Council of State, which serves as the top administrative court in Greece, reversed the decision of the government to shutdown the operations of Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT), and ordered the resumption of its operations.
Last week, the Greek government issued a decree for the temporary closure of the state-owned radio and television company as part of its initiative to save money. The move affected 2,500 employees, and the first layoffs occurred in the public sector as the country continues to struggle. The private sector in the country has already lost 1 million jobs.
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Government Shuts Greece Broadcaster ERT Operations
When the government shut down the operations of Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT), it promised that it will resume its operations as soon as possible, but it will reduce its workforce. The minority parties in Greece criticized the governments’ move, and different organizations protested against it.
Fofi Gennitama, a lawmaker, previously stated, “The decree will be retroactively invalidated, as we are not going to vote for it … but we want it to be immediately withdrawn.”
Mark Lowen of BBC noted that the court maintained the plan of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to restructure Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation. The ruling party in the country complained that the state owned broadcasting company is a waste, mismanaged, and lacks transparency.
The Council of State ordered in favor of Samaras’ proposal to replace Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) with a new broadcasting company, which is smaller and less expensive to operate, by next year. Samaras also recommended the hiring of a small team that will be responsible for producing news programs in the interim, but that plan was rejected by his two coalition partners, Evangelos Venizelos of Pasok and Fotis Kouvelis of the Democratic Left.
In his report, Lowen commented that both sides in Greece would claim that they won in the court’s ruling, and unity in the country would be weakened.
Kouvelis said, “The court decision is essentially in line with what we’ve said: no one has the right to shut down national radio and television and turn screens black.”
Despite the shutdown of the operations of the state owned broadcasting company last week, some journalists continued broadcasting live over the internet even if it was unauthorized by the government. Following the court ruling, the journalists wrote a strap line on the screen that reads, “In a few hours ERT will be broadcasting everywhere.”