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ERT is dead, long live ERT!

June 22, 2013
Occupy ERT

As you may know, on Tuesday 11 June the Greek government announced that it had decided to close down ERT, the public television and radio network. The best part is that this decision was effective immediately, they said that ERT would shut down by midnight and all 2656 employees were fired on the spot, on top of being branded as “useless” and “corrupt”. By 23.00, one hour earlier than announced, the police were already shutting down the transmitters.

But what is ERT exactly? ERT is one of the founding members of the European Broadcasting Union (www.ebu.ch), it runs four television stations, seven national and 19 regional radio stations, a network of journalists and technicians covering the whole of Greece, two of the top symphonic orchestras of Greece, a choir and many more musical ensembles, a magazine and an archive with the most important images, films and recordings of Greek history. It is not just a tv station, it is also the connection of many Greeks living abroad to their homeland, it is living history.

Night outside ERT

Night outside ERT

Immediately, hundreds and then thousands of people started gathering outside the building of ERT in Athens, as well as at the other ERT buildings around Greece, and they have been there ever since. ERT is now occupied and has been broadcasting non-stop over the internet with the help of many-many friends inside and outside Greece. It must be the first state pirate station in world history!

Somehow, the Greeks that have endured so much austerity, wage cuts, new taxes being invented, the whole country being sold out in pieces, decided that this was going too far. It was an emotional response, as most of us grew up with the sound of “tsopanakos”, the music jingle of ERT, and the blackness of TV screens and deafening silence of our familiar radio frequencies struck a sensitive chord.

Thousands of people have been visiting ERT every day and night for the last couple of weeks, talking, interacting, supporting each other, cooking for each other, cleaning up, singing, dancing and falling in love. The solidarity has been unbelievable. And this solidarity of the people is visibly changing ERT itself. The state broadcasting network was slightly more objective than the private greek media, but was always very careful not to go bluntly against government policy. Ever since its closure, journalists have been liberated and have remembered what real journalism is. They are finally not afraid to ask difficult questions and they insist on getting a clear answer to those questions.

Especially this past week, ERT has handed an open microphone to all those fighting against the ongoing destruction of Greece for the sake of money. Antiracist groups, solidarity initiatives, neighbourhood assemblies, regional fights to protect the environment, barter economy systems, all those new things that have been born by the crisis and are already forming a new reality are finally getting the exposure they deserve. And it looks like the people of ERT want to continue this effort, with our support.

I would personally like to thank our prime minister, Antonis Samaras for shutting down ERT. He has given us real television, in open communication with the people. And that is something that Greece really needed!

PS: The government has issued an ultimatum to the employees to evacuate the ERT buildings this weekend. Things may get ugly…. Please, support ERT any way you can!

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