This week, the Greek government announced it was using emergency powers to temporarily close ERT as a cost cutting measure, in a bid to ease the country’s desperate financial situation as it remains locked in recession.
The pubcaster’s three domestic channels went black yesterday evening, leaving an estimated 2,500 people out of work. The BBC reported thousands were protesting the decision outside the ERT headquarters in Athens.
A government spokesperson said taxpayer-funded ERT displayed “an exceptional lack of transparency” and was an “incredible extravagance”.
The EBU later slammed the unprecedented move in an open letter from its president Jean Paul Phillppot and director general Ingrid Deltenre. They claimed independent pubcasters “lie at the heart of democratic societies” and that far-reaching changes should only be the result of an “open and inclusive” public debate.
“While we recognise the need to make budgetary savings, national broadcasters are more important than ever at times of national difficulty. This is not to say that ERT need be managed less efficiently than a private company. Naturally, all public funds must be spent with the greatest of care,” they added.
According to UK broadsheet The Guardian, ERT journalists have continued to broadcast the channels via internet streaming portal Ustream.
ERT has been a member of the European pubcaster association since its inception in 1950.