To the director general of EBU

Dear Ingrid Deltenre

It has been 55 days now that the employees of ERT, journalists, technicians, administrative staff and musicians, continue producing regular their programme, despite all the everyday hardships that they have to endure since they are made unemployed.

We continue offering to the Greek society, (…) Διαβάστε ΣΤΗ ΣΥΝΕΧΕΙΑ ΟΛΟΚΛΗΡΗ την ΕΠΙΣΤΟΛΗ

News: Four, one-hour long bulletins and one three-hour long news programme, all of them broadcast 7 days a week. Also, during the recent wildfires, both in Attica and elsewhere in Greece, we aired several newsbreaks, covering all the latest developments with on-the-spot reporters. The same thing we did on the recent earthquake.

Culture: The ERT orchestras are still functioning, giving concerts and organising the international support coming their way. Also, during the past 3 weeks, we have created a makeshift “open cinema”, inviting the public to open-air screenings of films granted to us for free by various directors and producers.

Entertainment: Every day, we offer music concerts to the public. Hundreds of artists have volunteered to perform at the ERT courtyard stage. The list of names that have appeared during these 55 days is long and the list of those to appear is even longer. Also, we every day broadcast documentaries and movies granted to us rights free by the Greek Association of Moviemakers.

Sports: With the help of EBU, we still broadcast various sports events that no other Greek television channel has showed any interest in obtaining. At the same time, sports events that ERT had exclusive broadcasting rights for, are given out at ridiculous prices (less than what ERT had paid to obtain them), to private TV stations without any kind of transparency.

The EDT (Greek Public Television) story

The government created EDT as a transitional platform, until the New Greek Public Broadcaster (NERIT) starts to operate. It is a historical first, probably on a worldwide level, that a Public (only by name) Media Broadcaster is set up by private contractors, using privately owned studios, owned by private companies who control privately owned television channels and radio stations. Such is the case of EDT.

To top it all up, the new minister, Mr. Kapsis, is preparing to move the operations of EDT, from the privately owned premises to state owned ones. In a few days, EDT (or DT, as it is called now), will be broadcasting from studios built from scratch inside the Ministry building, which is in the Secretariat General of Information and Communication.

The word public maybe on the name of EDT but the notion, the idea, the practices, the ethics of “Public” are completely missing from this whole procedure. EDT (DT) is not a Public Broadcaster. Even if they manage to produce a news bulletin, it cannot transform EDT to a Public Broadcaster.

Such practices, as the ones mentioned above, are common in regimes that have little or no respect for democracy and its procedures. But it is not fitting for governments with European political ethos to have such tightly controlled media mechanisms.

Solutions and Denial

During the meetings with Mr. Kapsis, the Unions and the ERT employees’ representatives submitted 4 different proposals that could have laid the foundations for substantial talks and negotiations towards a solution. The fifth proposal takes into consederation the new law concerning NERIT.

According to this proposal, the 2,656 ERT employees would accept the closure of ERT and start operating the new Public Broadcaster. In two months’ time, employees reaching or nearing retirement could exercise their right to retire. Also, the government could set up an early retirement scheme, which would cost a fraction of what the closure of ERT has cost so far, to facilitate more employees to leave ERT. It is estimated that it could lead to more than 600 retirements, leaving NERIT with roughly 2,000 employees, the same number of employees that EDT will hire under the agreement of the political parties that make up the government coalition.

Moreover, it has been suggested to agree on a strict timeframe to initiate a round of discussions that would determine the new management plan for NERIT. These discussions would take place with the participation of the government, the trade unions and EBU, who can offer impartial and substantial argumentation on every aspect of the functioning of a public media organisation.

On top of all this, it was proposed, as an extra insurance, that no working action would be called by the unions during the period of the talks.

Not only did Mr. Kapsis firmly refuse to even discuss our proposal, he also refused to pass it on to the Prime Minister and the leader of PASOK, the other government coalition partner.

ERT – Since the 11th of June and Beyond

The ERT employees who, for 55 days, have been producing television, radio and online content, are determined to continue doing so.

Every one of them is grateful for all the continuing help that EBU has been providing. Your great help has contributed the most in succeeding in what they do. We would like to ask you to continue doing so.

This is not a matter of 2,656 layoffs. It is not a matter of getting their jobs back, although this is a very important issue for each and every one of them. It is a matter of Greece having a true Public Broadcaster. Not a government media organisation, not a State TV, but a truly Public Broadcaster, that will continue providing the Greek society with News, Culture, Entertainment and Sports for all, without any exclusions or exceptions.

Let us concentrate our efforts towards that goal and not towards a bad replacement for ERT with a half state-half private media hybrid that is not legitimately authorised to broadcast.

Sincerely yours

Jim Boumelha President of International Federation of Journalists

George Savvidis President of PanHellenic Federation of Journalists’ Unions

Panagiotis Kalfagianis President of Panhellenic Federation of Employees’ Unions in ERT

Dimitris Trimis Presiding of Journalists’ Union of Daily Newspapers in Athens

Nicholas Tsimpidas Union Representative of ERT Journalists

Machi Nikolara Union Representative of ERT Journalists


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