Embattled ERT journalists continued to produce and share news of their story with the EBU’s Eurovision News Exchange in Geneva today, in defiance of the Greek government’s summary closure of the station last night.
Using a combination of company-owned and personal equipment, ERT staff are producing interviews and debate from their studios and broadcasting them via streaming. The EBU has been accessing the stream and retransmitting it via satellite, to give Europe’s public service media access to the news content on television.
ERT crews have also been filming protests outside the ERT building and feeding the material to the EBU in Geneva via a satellite news gathering (SNG) van positioned in the parking lot by Eurovision.
As part of the snap closure, ERT employees’ email accounts have been deactivated, so all communication with the EBU’s newsdesk in Geneva has been via Facebook and web-based email.
As soon the Greek government announced its intention to close down its nation’s public service broadcaster last night, large crowds began to gather outside ERT’s headquarters.
Today media professionals, politicians and members of the public have continued to demonstrate outside the station, while crowds of ERT employees have vowed to fight the decision and called for a general media blackout. In a gesture of solidarity, privately-owned Greek TV stations took scheduled shows off air and showed repeats and adverts for six hours.
Amid a heavy police presence, protesters unfurled a banner reading "Down with the junta, ERT will not close".
ERT, a founder member when the EBU was created in 1950, was taken off air after midnight and its 2,600 employees invited to reapply for their jobs.
Last night the EBU’s leadership expressed profound dismay on behalf of Europe’s public service media community, and urged Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to overturn the decision immediately.
Today EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre described the Greek government’s move as “anti-democratic”.
“This has been very poorly managed,” she said. “There has been no debate on the future of public service media in Greece, it was all very last-minute and carried out in a knee-jerk fashion. Just closing down an organization without any follow-up procedure in place is not only rash, it is foolhardy and unprofessional.”
Ms Deltenre added that the EBU is in continuous contact with ERT’s laid-off senior executives offering support and advice on media law, corporate governance and professional expertise regarding channel management.