Greek Private Business: No Sympathy with Public Broadcaster

World | June 13, 2013, Thursday // 12:12|  views

Greek state television and radio ERT employees and supporters gather in front of the broadcasting station headquarters in Agia Paraskevi, in Athens, Greece, 12 June 2013. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Greece's public services may be staging a general strike against the shocking closure of state broadcaster ERT, but people from private businesses are showing no signs of sympathy, reporters in Athens say.

City streets have been as full as usual with commuters and car traffic, the BBC's Mark Lowen in Athens reports.

Supermarkets have been open for business and cafes serving customers as usual.

"The lowest ERT employee is making in a day what I'm making in a week, so why should I strike for them?," one vegetable seller, Yannis Papailias, told Reuters news agency in Athens.

"Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs. Who protested for them?" asked waitress Maria Skylakou.

Corruption and mismanagement are widely known to exist within ERT, a public company symptomatic of Greece's past mistakes, the BBC's Mark Lowen in Athens reports.

But employees maintain successive governments were responsible as they were in charge, BBC correspondent adds.

The Greek government surprisingly shut down the radio and TV services of the state broadcaster ERT on Tuesday evening and suspended all employees as part of its latest austerity measures.

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

In his words the public broadcaster ERT, was a real "haven of waste".

While all 2,500 employees would be sacked, he added they would be paid compensation and would be able to apply for work when the corporation relaunches as a smaller, independent public broadcaster.

The decision took viewers by surprise as they saw the screens go to black late on Tuesday evening.

The head of ERT's foreign desk, Odin Linardatou, said the announcement took journalists by surprise too.

"We are very shocked, we are angry," she told the BBC's Newshour program. "What I cannot accept in a democracy is that Greece will not have a public broadcaster."

Thousands of people held a protest against the decision outside ERT headquarters.

It is the latest move in rafts of spending cuts and tax rises aimed at leading the country out of recession.

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Tags: TV, radio, ERT, state broadcaster, austerity measures, greece, Greek, government


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