Six Months Without Public Broadcaster in Greece

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is gravely concerned that Greece is at risk of being excluded from the European public broadcasting arena.

It has already been six months since the Greek government abruptly shut down the country's public broadcaster ERT, leading to the unemployment of 2,600 workers. The only progress it has managed so far is to implement an interim-yet-extended public broadcasting service that fails to meet  European standards on independence, pluralism, and nationwide coverage.

The EFJ's concerns have increased following a meeting held, on Monday, by EFJ delegates and Greek unions representatives with the President of EBU, Jean-Paul Philippot.

"The interim scheme entitled Public Broadcaster is definitely not a public broadcaster. It is not and cannot become a member of the EBU. As such, Greece will not be represented at the EBU's General Assembly on December in Geneva," stressed the EBU president. 

"On a weekly basis, we have been exerting pressure on the Greek officials in charge of NERIT, the new service that will replace ERT, asking them to tell us what exactly its operational format will be, how many stations it will encompass and what type of programming it will broadcast, but we don't receive any clear answers," Mr Philippot said.

He also justified the fears and misgivings expressed by a representative of the former ERT employees, Nicholas Tsimpidas, who was present at the meeting, pertaining to the credibility and competence of the government's actions.

"We do share many of your fears regarding the formation of the new broadcaster NERIT. We're pressuring for its quick and optimal operation. We will most certainly react if this new service does not meet the required specifications,"  Mr Philippot warned. The EBU President also condemned the recent police raid at ERT's headquarters in Athens, underlining that "police forces and arms have no place in public broadcasting stations."

"It is clear to the European Federation of Journalists that the matter of public broadcasting in Greece is a sign of poor European practices, as it combines violation of labour rights, questionable procedures, authoritarian practices and - above all- disregard for information as a public good," said John Barsby, president of the EFJ Broadcasting Experts Group.

"As such, and in light of Greece's EU presidency term, the EFJ will intensify its efforts to restore the operation standards for public broadcasting in Greece and to prevent the further violation of the former ERT employees' labour rights," added Yannis Kotsifos, member of the Steering Committee of the EFJ.

Here is a video message from our colleague Nicholas Tsimpidas, journalist at ERT and delegate of the Panhellenic Federation of Journalists.

For more information, please contact the EFJ at +32 2 235 22 08. 

The European Federation of Journalists represents over 300,000 journalists in 39 countries.