Sunday 22 October 2017

Greek journalists barricade themselves inside State broadcaster in defiance of closure

An employee raises his arm from a balcony of the studio of state broadcaster ERT in Athens.
An employee raises his arm from a balcony of the studio of state broadcaster ERT in Athens.
People stand in front of Greek state television ERT headquarters after the government's announcement that it will shut down the broadcaster in Athens.
A protester smokes a cigarette inside Greek state television ERT's headquarters in Athens.
Protesters sleep inside the Greek state television ERT headquarters in Athens.
Employees stand at the windows of the Greek state television (ERT) headquarters after the government's announcement that it will shut down the broadcaster in Athens.
A cameraman films Greek state television presenter Elli Stai (C) during the news bulletin inside the headquarters of the station in Athens.
An employee at a balcony of the studio of state broadcaster ERT in Athens.
An employee smokes a cigarette at a window of Greek state television ERT headquarters after the government's announcement that it will shut down the broadcaster in Athens.

Journalists sacked from Greece's state TV and radio have refused to leave the broadcaster's headquarters, continuing internet programming, as the country's conservative-led government faced political crisis a year after taking office.

State TV and radio signals were cut early on Wednesday after the government closed the Hellenic Broadcasting Corp, ERT, and fired its 2,500 workers, citing the need to cut "incredible waste" as the bailed out country endures a sixth year of recession.

But thousands of protesters remained outside ERT's giant headquarters north of Athens through the night as journalists continued a live broadcast, which was streamed online.

Journalist unions called a 24-hour strike, halting private television news programs, while the government's centre-left coalition partners demanded that ERT's closure be reversed.

Conservative prime minister Antonis Samaras faces stern opposition from his coalition partners - the Socialist Pasok and Democratic Left party - for the decision to close ERT.

The executive order to shut it down must be ratified by parliament within three months but cannot be approved without backing from the minority coalition MPs. Left-wing opposition leader Alexis Tsipras slammed the closure as "illegal" during an interview on ERT's online broadcast.

The decision was announced during an inspection in Athens by officials from Greece's bailout creditors. The so-called "troika" of the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund has been pressing the government to start a long-delayed programme to fire civil servants.

The surprise closure of ERT is one of the biggest crises to afflict the three-party coalition government since it was formed nearly a year ago.

Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou promised to reopen ERT at an unspecified later date, but is facing growing protest in Greece and abroad.

Greece's largest unions, the GSEE and the civil servants' ADEDY, began emergency meetings to decide on likely strikes in response to the ERT developments.

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