European Commission ‘notes’ closure of Greek broadcaster ERT
The European Commission has noted the decision by the Greek authorities to close down public broadcaster the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, ERT, saying that it did not question the government’s authority to manage the public sector but adding that it supports public broadcasting as an integral part of European democracy.
The suspension of ERT, with projected large-scale job losses and a plan currently with no timeframe to reopen the broadcaster later with significantly reduced staff numbers, was announced by Athens on June 11.
The station was closed down at about 11pm local time, an hour earlier than the government had said the closedown would take place. The move has caused protests by employees and objections by parties in Greece’s ruling coalition, who said that they were not consulted.
The European Commission said on July 12 that it had not sought the closure of ERT, “but nor does the Commission question the Greek government’s mandate to manage the public sector.”
The Commission decision said that the decision by the Greek authorities “should be seen in the context of the major and necessary efforts that the authorities are taking to modernise the Greek economy. Those include improving its efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector”.
The Commission said that it understood the difficult situation of ERT staff and expects the announced dismissals to be carried out in full accordance with the applicable legal framework.
The EC supports the role of public broadcasting “as an integral part of European democracy,” the statement from Brussels said.
The Treaty makes it clear that the governance and strategic choices on public service broadcasting lie with EU member states.
“So while the Commission cannot prescribe member states how to organise their public service broadcaster, we would like to highlight the role of public service broadcasters regarding European values in all economic circumstances, for the sake of media pluralism, media freedom and media quality and for the expression of cultural diversity.”
The EC said that it welcomed the commitment of the Greek government to launch a media actor that fulfils the important role of public broadcasting and is financially sustainable.
(Photo: Sébastien Bertrand)