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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 11 December, 2018
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This is the moment the Greek version of RTÉ went off-air

The Greek government has shut down state broadcaster ERT’s TV and radio stations, with the loss of nearly 3,000 jobs, in order to save money.

YouTube: Hugh O’Connell

GREEK POLITICAL PARTIES and unions are battling to reverse the shutdown of state broadcaster ERT, a shock decision the government took to meet Greece’s debt bailout requirements.

The broadcaster’s TV and radio stations were taken off the air after 8pm GMT last night on Tuesday and an affiliated Communist channel also went black later in the night.

Greek opposition leader Alexis Tsipras will ask the country’s President Carolos Papoulias on Wednesday to refuse to sign the order for ERT’s demise, a move affecting nearly 2,700 jobs.

Protest rallies have been called in support of the broadcaster’s staff and unions are planning a general strike, reportedly for Thursday. Journalists have already called a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, except for stations airing a rogue broadcast maintained by ERT staffers.

The decision to shut down ERT by conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras over the opposition of his socialist and moderate leftist allies in the government has sparked uproar in the country and abroad.

Messages of support for the broadcaster have poured in from the Greek diaspora — for whom ERT is a vital link to the homeland — and the shutdown was strongly condemned by the head of the Orthodox Church of Greece.

The government yesterday said ERT was a huge drain on public coffers and would reopen at a later stage under a new format and with considerably fewer employees.

“ERT is a case of an exceptional lack of transparency and incredible extravagance. This ends now,” government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said.

His announcement comes after months of work stoppages by ERT employees in opposition to plans to restructure the broadcaster as demanded by debt-laden Greece’s troika of international creditors.

Athens has pledged to cut 4,000 state-sector jobs this year and 11,000 in 2014 to keep drawing rescue loans.

- © AFP, 2013

More: RTÉ’s equivalent in Greece is shut down to cut public spending

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