By Andrew Brady In the latest of disturbing reports from Greece the state TV and radio stations were gradually pulled off air yesterday evening. The ‘temporary closure’ will lead to 2,500 workers being made redundant as the Government claim the state b …

USi Live

By Andrew Brady

In the latest of disturbing reports from Greece the state TV and radio stations were gradually pulled off air yesterday evening. The ‘temporary closure’ will lead to 2,500 workers being made redundant as the Government claim the state broadcaster – the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) – will be re-opened with a shell workforce “as soon as possible”. Well, we have all hear that phrase before and that means no time soon – if at all – and when it does it will become a blatant or subservient tool of the Government.

State broadcasts were pulled off the air with the the Government informing the viewing and listening public that all signals would go dead an hour prior to the event – although satellite broadcasts continued. Unions representing ERT workers have vowed to keep the stations on air (i.e. three terrestrial TV stations, one satellite station and the national and regional radio network). Indeed as I write this article journalists from ERT s have managed to keep the service going through the night and continue to broadcast via Ustream.

The development is a truly sinister turn. It is the latest of a long line of attacks which directly correlates to the attempts to silence and intimidate brave journalists and independent or non-subservient media outlets such as Kostas Vaxevanis by the Greek Government and their corporate supporters (domestically and internationally). Moreover, to chrystalise this point the Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou – a former state TV journalist – is quoted as describing ERT as a “haven of waste”.

The Guardian reports that newscaster Antonis Alafogiorgos said toward the end of ERT’s main TV live broadcast, “Congratulations to the Greek government… This is a blow to democracy.” For Antonis is absolutely correct. The authoritarian strain in Greece society grows stronger and embeds deeper into the fabric of society with austerity measures and international creditors being blamed by the right-wing New Democracy government for all decisions. For while it is true the Greek Government have promised creditors by the end of this week to dismiss 4,000 civil servants this year, including 2,000 by the end of the summer and 15,000 by the end of 2014 they rather forget that the ‘agreement’ is based on deliberately and jointly agreed list of constrained options designed to attack working people and the public sector.  Let’s not mention that Lagrade list again as a way of raising revenues. Greece has already shed 128,000 of the 150,000 civil service jobs that the so-called troika of lenders — the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank – has ‘demanded’.

There is an old maxim if you perpetuate a lie often enough then it becomes the truth but perhaps this may not apply here for once as thousands of people came on to the streets in Athens to protest outside the company’s HQ refusing to absolve the Government of blame and exclusively blaming the creditors. I say, maybe, because the people of Greece including my friends tell me of the harsh toll which austerity has taken on every aspect of their lives and fatigue has set in – but they continue to resist and we must support them as much as we can.

In a thematically related issue it’s also important to report that in neighbouring Turkey the same authoritarian impulses are strong in the Government’s attitude towards the concept of an oppositional or independent media. The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) in Turkey has fined a number of channels, including Halk TV, for “harming the physical, moral and mental development of children and young people” by broadcasting coverage of the Gezi Park protests. Halk TV has gained popularity over its live streaming of events in Istanbul at a time when many mainstream media outlets behaved as if they protests were happening in a parallel universe. The Daily News reports that Halk TV had been previously warned by RTÜK about a video clip the regulator deemed to beinapporpriate in its portrayal of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Just another reason why we need our own means of communicating.


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