Saturday, 13 July 2013

EU threatened Greek broadcaster days before it went off the air

Revelations about a dispute with the Greek national broadcasting corporation, ERT, over the pro-EU news channel Euronews have cast doubt on the EU Commission’s claim to have been an impartial bystander in the decision to close the station.
The Commission threatened to take actionagainst ERT for failing to broadcast pro-EU news days before it was taken off the air. The vice-president of the Commission, Viviane Reding, told a member of the EU Parliament that the Commission planned action at European Union levelagainst ERT after it cancelled a contract to broadcast the subsidised Euronews.
The EU Commission, which effectually rules Greece as part of the so-called “Troika,” which also includes the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, claimed last week that it had “not sought the closure of ERT”—even if Greece is under constant pressure to sack government employees. The Commission admits, however, to a dispute with ERT over Euronews, which the ERT manage- ment forced off the air in December 2012.
Greece’s highest administrative court subsequently ruled that the government must reopen ERT immediately until a replacement station is ready to go on air.
In a blow to the conservative prime minister, Antónis Samarás, who sought to replace the state with a reduced operation named NERIT, the Council of State ordered the competent ministers to take all necessary action to return ERT’s world, national and regional television and radio signals to the airwaves and to restore its web sites. Sacked ERT employees continued broadcasting by live-stream hosted by the European Broadcasting Union, which has demanded that the station be reopened.
The latest proposal by Samarás would see all 2,600 ERT employees being rehired on fixed two-month contracts, after which the new slimmed-down station would take over.
Meanwhile the Turkish channel Hayat TV is also to be closed down, because it broadcast the Taksim Square protests. The Radio and Television High Commission says it investigated “the complaints received for our coverage of the Taksim Gezi Park protests” and made a decision to close it. Four other television channels have been fined by the radio and television commission because of their coverage of the recent events.
All of which is unlikely to happen here, as RTE continues to broadcast uncritical Brussels- speak. 

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