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Greek TV closes
June 11, 2013 10:18 AM   Subscribe

Austerity at work. The public radio-television broadcaster Elliniki Radiophonia Tileorasi (ERT/EPT) is closing down, throwing thousands out of work and at least temporarily depriving Greece of one of the totems of statehood (such as a national airline, a national cuisine, a national comic-book character...). Announcement in Greek here, with reactions. It will be interesting to see what sorts of job the former journalists will be competing for when the service is reopened.
posted by homerica (33 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Austerity works so you don't get to.
posted by The White Hat at 10:25 AM on June 11, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'm not sure that Greece needs fewer centrist voices right now.
posted by jaduncan at 10:41 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Translation of that website via Google Translate:
Statement by the Government Spokesman Mr Simos Kedikoglou

"At a time when the Greek people no sacrifices, no time for delay or hesitation. As there are no tolerances for "sacred cows" that remain intact when applied cuts everywhere.

When you need to finish with the deficits and get out of the crisis, we can not tolerate pockets of opacity and public wastage.

The Greek Radio Television, ERT, is a typical case unique opacity and incredibly wasteful.

That ends today ...

ERT pays for the Greek people to hike in electricity bills: around 300 million a year! It has three times as cost seven times by other television stations and four times six times as personnel very small audience: almost half of all three public channels together, than it means a commercial channel.

Has enormous fortune, which remains idle, if not plundered for competition.

Has the status of opacity in its management: We are talking about a company with six accounting departments that do not communicate with each other!

Status opacity contract management, status of even greater opacity in the management of material, which has not been inventoried for ... eight years!

Status privileges for employees who charge huge number of overtime.

Not to mention the huge amounts that distributes private productions could do with much less, using its own means. Who has paid dearly for the Greek taxpayer.

Not to mention the huge cost external transmissions have imposed antiquated union privileges, so move tens technicians every so often for work that can be done by two to three people.

Not to say that it maintains without magazine readers and features dozens of local stations that actually broadcast stations, most hours of the day, the central program.

The current ERT has evolved into a scandal that they see daily all but dared not touch it.

These all ends today. And finally finished!

The government decided to close the ERT. The current legal framework and joint ministerial decision stop transmissions of ERT after completing the program tonight. And in place of the ERT will create a modern, public - but not state or party controlled - Broadcasting Agency.

By the standards of the most successful public service broadcasters in Europe. The Bill shall be submitted immediately to operate as soon as the new operator.

ERT staff will be compensated properly. And those of current employees so wish, they can submit a request to be engaged in the new broadcaster.

There are many worthy and qualified workers, experience and seniority of which is necessary to stand the new Agency. And it will be handled during the recruitment process, with transparent procedures and criteria ASEP.

The new agency will operate with much less staff. With a clear organizational structure, as required by current data on public broadcasting around the world. The file ERT - which is true National Treasure - safeguarded and will be fully realized.

Also will exploit satellite services and modern technologies. Order to have - finally - dynamic lever to promote Greece, growth, openness, and valuable daily link with the Greek Diaspora around the world.

The new broadcaster will start functioning soon. Until then the people will not pay hike paid to date.

And from the operation and then I'll pay much less. Estimated to be rid of an amount of up to 100 million annually.

While many positions today ERT considered redundant, will recruit new workers ASEP hospitals, ADS and where the public needs.

Big changes are not without large incisions. Bold and radical!

Until now many say that "no political will" for such areas ...

The current government proves that it has the political will!

Besides, this, and this asks wait to see the Greek people. "
posted by wellvis at 10:50 AM on June 11, 2013


Am I correct in assuming that ERT/EPT has a cultural position in Greece more akin to the BBC in Britain than PBS in the US?
posted by cosmic.osmo at 10:50 AM on June 11, 2013


Am I correct in assuming that ERT/EPT has a cultural position in Greece more akin to the BBC in Britain than PBS in the US?

It is paid for from power bills, and has a much lower percentage of viewers than the BBC does but was once the monopoly broadcaster so there's a very little of the same nostalgia.

It's closing on the 12th, after an announcement today; if you did that to the BBC I suspect there would literally be mass protests or riots, and you could *never* do that politically. I think that in and of itself demonstrates the difference in status.
posted by jaduncan at 10:59 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a Greek taxpayer: good riddance. ERT was a favorite patronage shop where each government happily hired their favorite journalists for second and third jobs in addition to their (popular) first jobs. About the only shocking thing is that I've seen this miserable pork barrel of a media giantl shut down in my lifetime. €60 per year per household for a combined ratings across three channels of less than what 5%?
posted by costas at 11:06 AM on June 11, 2013 [9 favorites]




The file ERT - which is true National Treasure - safeguarded and will be fully realized.

I assume that this is Google's translation of something to the effect that the ERT archive will be preserved?

That's good, anyway. Not being Greek, I don't have any real appreciation for whether the shutdown is a good thing or bad thing overall.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:12 AM on June 11, 2013


€60 per year per household for a combined ratings across three channels of less than what 5%?

Less per year than HBO with a larger audience share (when it isn't showing Game of Thrones, but even then, not that much higher). If they'd staged a couple Red Weddings, they'd have much more popular support.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:30 AM on June 11, 2013


As there are no tolerances for "sacred cows" that remain intact when applied cuts everywhere.

Yeah, we owe the Germans interest payments so we had better dismantle our entire country.

It would be interesting to see if Greece is like Canada, where the private networks complain about the $1 billion operating subsidy given to CBC, while private broadcasters also receive $1 billion in subsidies themselves.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:39 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


We have all had our gripes with our state broadcaster, but beyond all problems, which were mostly caused because it tried to keep up with the times and antagonize privately owned tv and radio stations following their business and content model, still, ERT often was an oasis of culture, in the way only a non-profit state radio and television can be. Here’s a relevant FB comment, hastily translated, which describes what many of us are feeling tonight:

“Thanks to state television, during my childhood and teenage years I got to see almost all films which until then had marked the history of cinema. From Murnau to Weders, Eisenstain to Tarkovsky, Visconti, Fellini, Truffaut, Bergman and Dreyer. I attended classical plays and concerts, television adaptations of literary works, from Stendhal’s "The Monastery of Parma" to the "Magic Mountain" and "Dr. Faustus" by Thomas Mann. I saw the BBC series "I, Claudius" and "Ptolemy". I watched Vincent Price in most of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. The state radio’s Third Program gave me the opportunity to listen to classical music every day, not just during Holy Week. And national radio was the place I first heard most of the musicians who I was going to love later on.”

Besides that – there is something inherently *wrong* with closing down public tv like this: a radical announcement and a few hours later, when the clock strikes midnight, it’s gone. No debate in Parliament, no poll if we, the people who supported it with our own money every month, would like to see it go. And there is definitely something fishy about the criteria of the business plan around which ERT’s replacement will function.

Anyway, hints of BBC professionalism right now, as the last news program is broadcasted. I often have wanted to throw a brick at the TV - now I’m just sad I won’t get my morning news tomorrow.
posted by helion at 11:55 AM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


...and a shocked letter from EBU- Eurovision and Euroradio to the Greek Prime Minister
posted by helion at 12:21 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find the way this is being handled completely idiotic. On a personal level, I am saddened by their axing of the radio stations and orchestras. Two of the radio stations in particular (Trito Programma and Kosmos) were easily among the best programmes available on Greek radio.

Trito in particular has played an historic role in contemporary Greek culture: it's pretty funny to discover that my listening to early morning Bach while driving to work is what's wrong with this country.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:37 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


oneswellfoop: Less per year than HBO with a larger audience share (when it isn't showing Game of Thrones, but even then, not that much higher).
Comparing compulsory payments to a subscription entertainment service is not meaningful.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:41 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


€60 per year per household for a combined ratings across three channels of less than what 5%

Do you still have to pay the €60 and now get nothing?
posted by Dreamghost at 12:45 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


@Dreamghost - who knows. they are supposedly going to replace ERT with something else sometime in the future, so I don't expect the fee to go away in the meantime.
posted by helion at 12:49 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm loving how repeating the mistakes of the early 1930's is leading Europe straight into the gaping jaws of the early 1940's. There should be some sort of catchy, easy-to-remember turn of phrase to explain to people how that works.
posted by mhoye at 1:16 PM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh and in case you didn't notice, the DEPA deal fell through yesterday. I guess it would be interesting to discuss how this happened, and wether there is any basis in the rumors that western energy interests where unhappy with the bid going to Gazprom.

But sure, let's create a huge mess by cutting off in just one day one of the services a large chunk of the country uses every day, one that has played a visible, iconic role for the modern Greek state - that's going to be a more interesting conversation.

Do you still have to pay the €60 and now get nothing?

It is collected by the PPC, the majority electricity supplier, as a line item on electricity bills. If they go through with this after all, they'll probably knock it off on the next bill. The fee has been controversial anyway - the EU has been pushing for it to be discontinued for a while now.

(FWIW, I would gladly keep paying it - I think it's a good thing to have some media presence that is not driven by advertising - but would support a system to allow people to opt out.)
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:04 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Greece should really, really have never gone to the Euro.
posted by GuyZero at 2:08 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Greece should really, really have never gone to the Euro.

The EC shouldn't have let them join the Euro. As I remember it, there was a lot of rule bending and book cooking to get the Greek economy looking like it was strong enough to join the Euro, when it clearly wasn't.
posted by gjc at 2:47 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, there was a lot of rule bending to get Greece into the currency union. But if memory serves, they also had to quietly disregard the rule about budget deficits for Germany to get in at the time. Really strict rules make everyone feel good. But if they are too strict, they aren't enforced and become meaningless.
posted by Triplanetary at 5:04 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's Pawn Stars (glorification of vultures), Man versus Food (heroification of supersized idiot) and Ice Road Truckers (yay truckers!) the greek version for y'all, all the time! Cause they cost next to nothing to produce and the difference lines producers' pockets. But I rejoice in thinking the next step is Video On Demand and all that shit will be given for free again, togheter with tons of advertising about diapers. But as that may not be enough, eventually you'll pay to own a TV, like in Italy (a tax most pay only once, evanding it for any additional tv anyhow).
posted by elpapacito at 5:32 PM on June 11, 2013


“Thanks to state television, during my childhood and teenage years I got to see almost all films which until then had marked the history of cinema. From Murnau to Weders, Eisenstain to Tarkovsky, Visconti, Fellini, Truffaut, Bergman and Dreyer. I attended classical plays and concerts, television adaptations of literary works, from Stendhal’s "The Monastery of Parma" to the "Magic Mountain" and "Dr. Faustus" by Thomas Mann. I saw the BBC series "I, Claudius" and "Ptolemy". I watched Vincent Price in most of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. The state radio’s Third Program gave me the opportunity to listen to classical music every day, not just during Holy Week. And national radio was the place I first heard most of the musicians who I was going to love later on.”

On the other hand, you can get all that for less than €60 with DVD rentals and internet radio. But let's face it, the only reason you watched that stuff as a kid was because it was the only thing that was on TV at that time, since there were no private TV stations around. It's not like many kids today (who have a choice) will tune in to Bergman or Fellini.
posted by sour cream at 9:55 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, private TV programming right now is 50% product placement cooking shows, 25% low-cost serials - a lot of them imported - and 25% "reality" shows and talent competitions. Taking Bergman and Fellini off the air is clearly the right thing to do.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:07 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


But if you have €60 at your disposal, you can watch all the Bergman and Fellini you want, so it's not like that option is going away.
I think a better argument for public TV is to ensure a minimum amount of neutrality and quality in news coverage.
posted by sour cream at 11:07 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, that's a lost cause in Greek TV - in news coverage, public TV and radio has always effectively been an official government mouthpiece. Not necessarily a bad thing - people know where they are coming from. Cushy ERT jobs and contracts have been standard rewards for friendly press for ages, for the government to be shocked by this is the height of hypocrisy.

The idea that they're going to fire everybody, keep them out of work for a few months and then rehire in an objective and fair manner is not very realistic - I bet all the journalists that have been critical of austerity will be at the top of the list for rehiring.

It's not only Fellini and Bergman that we got from public TV: there was also Greek-language cultural programming that is never going to be produced by the private sector (we're a small market, it makes better financial sense to buy and subtitle Latin American and Turkish soap operas, or license foreign reality tv brands), educational TV, old-school documentaries (stuff like documenting traditional craftsmen, or modern political history - not CGI dinosaur extravagnazas), classical and jazz radio, the orchestras - tons of stuff that's just gone, supposedly to be replaced Real Soon Now. Literally half of the stuff I regularly listen to on the radio does not exist any more, and I seriously doubt the Invisible Hand will replace it.

You can't replace a functioning media ecosystem with a 60€ personal budget. You want to get rid of your previous journo pals to please your new Troika friends - that's fine by me, but don't steamroll over the country's cultural landscape to do it.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:30 AM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Couldn't they have sold it?
posted by Segundus at 3:26 AM on June 12, 2013


Well, at least someone's happy about it:
The far-right Golden Dawn party was the only one who openly welcomed the closure, with lawmaker Ilias Panagiotaros tweeting: "ERT, that Socialist-Communist shack, is finally closing."
posted by ennui.bz at 7:25 AM on June 12, 2013




Couldn't they have sold it?

Who would buy a government agency that loses money? Unless it was sold with the EUR60 per head levy intact, which seems like not such a good idea. I mean at that point you might as well just sell off future tax revenue streams outright (and isn't that what bonds are anyway?).
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:16 PM on June 12, 2013




Some aspects of the whole mess are pure comedy: After the blackout, the government announced they have plans ready for a replacement leaner, meaner public TV, to be operational on August 29th. The replacement plans (that were not created by hastily copying and pasting from previous studies and had really honestly been prepared in advance of the blackout) call for the new entity to be called NERIT.

Unfortunately, nobody in this well-oiled machine of fairness and efficiency had thought to register nerit.gr, even though it was available as late as yesterday. The new name stands for New Greek Radio, Television and Internet.
posted by Dr Dracator at 7:43 AM on June 13, 2013




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