Greece's state-run TV service resumes with a blast from the past


A black and white Greek movie from the 60s may have been an unusual way to launch Greece's new “Public Television” channel — but with most of the staff from the former public broadcaster still on strike, it was the best they could do.

The new channel replaces ERT, which was shut down by the government last month for cost-saving reasons. The move sparked international condemnation.

This transitory broadcaster, launched on Wednesday night, will provisionally broadcast movies, series and documentaries with a news ticker while authorities scramble to set up a broader program, the deputy culture minister said. “This is a rudimentary broadcast, Pantelis Kapsis told The Independent. ”We are not happy with it but we are definitely going to move on - we cannot remain in a standstill forever.“

The limited program of DT - Dimosia Tileorasi, Public Television in Greek- was being broadcast from private studios as the headquarters of the former broadcaster were being occupied by dismissed employees. ”We make use of whatever is at our disposal“ said Mr Kapsis, who hoped to hire journalists and staff in the next few weeks to allow for a more regular program which would include news bulletin and informative shows. In an effort to man DT with workers, authorities initially planned to hire some 2,000 people from former ERT on 2-month contracts but are unable to house them because of the sit-ins, he added.

The permanent public broadcaster is scheduled to start airing in the autumn, he explained.

But in a statement, media unions called the government's actions ”undemocratic and unconstitutional“ while ERT journalists protested today by marching and calling on private channel employees to stage a 5-hour work stoppage.

Mannia Gousiari, the former Central Greece correspondent for ERT said she was appalled by the government's actions and feared for her career.

”This is an offensive and pirate station,“ she told The Independent. ”I am convinced clientelism will endure [in the new broadcaster] and there will be no meritocracy, no guarantees of objective criteria for hirings.“

A few weeks ago, former news director Giorgos Kogiannis of ERT had publicly exposed the coalition government for appointing some 30 people in August 2012 - including family members of politicians - to the previous public broadcaster ERT.

In June, Antonis Samaras fragile government was left reeling after the Premier decided to abruptly shut down the country's public broadcaster forcing him to reshuffle his cabinet after Democratic Left party quit the coalition over the closure of ERT.