Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Greece closes state TV overnight

ERT (Greek state tv-radio) is dead: A blacklisted person’s lament

A few hours ago, the Greek government announced that state television and radio channels would be silenced at midnight. No public debate, no debate in Parliament, no warning. Nothing. ERT, the Greek version of the BBC, will simply fold its tent and steal into the night. As probably the only Greek commentator to have been blacklisted by ERT over the past two years, I feel I have the moral authority to cry out against ERT’s passing. To shout from the rooftops that its murder by our troika-led government is a crime against public media that all civilised people, the world over, should rise up against.

It was two years ago that the then Greek Minister of Propaganda (official title: ‘Minister for the Press’ and Government Spokesperson’) ordered the producer of an ERT(Greek state) television program never to invite me again on state television. How do I know? He did so in my presence...


In view of the above, you may think, dear reader, that the government’s decision to close down ERT tonight would leave me cold; even enthuse me. Not in the slightest! For whatever the faults of our public broadcaster, however suggestible its producers may be to government officials, our public media are the only chance we have of news, current affairs and cultural programs that run through audiences as a civilising force. Our only possibility of programs that are provided for their contents’ worth, packing values that are irreducible to prices and advertising revenues.

Naturally, public media can be terrible. Just like public schools and hospitals, even the public system of justice and the courts, can be awful. Still, public media offer us (like public schools, courts and hospitals) a shot at civilising our social world. Without them, we are at the mercy of the Rupert Murdochs of the planet who, having heard of the Greek government’s decision, are surely getting nasty ideas on how the Greek model can be exported to Britain (BBC beware!), to Australia (ABC you are next!), to everywhere there is money to be made from dismantling public media.

So, coming from the heart of one that has blacklisted for two years by ERT, I must say: At the stroke of midnight tonight, when ERT television and radio channels go silent, we shall all become poorer citizens. All over the planet.

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