Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has offered to partially reinstate the state broadcaster ERT amid the growing protests across the country over the closure of the media outlet that left many unemployed.
“A temporary committee ... can be appointed to hire a small number of (ERT) employees, so that the broadcast of information programmers can begin immediately,” Samaras said on a statement on Friday. He called on his allies to “act responsibly” to prevent “mishaps” for Greece, hinting that a split over the issue could threaten to derail his fragile coalition government and lead to snap elections. Earlier in the day, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU, in a petition signed by 51 European directors general, urged the Greek government to reopen ERT. “We ask the government to reverse this decision, we ask the government to reestablish the signal on TV, radio and web,” EBU President Jean-Paul told a press conference on Friday. Jean-Paul called ERT’s closure as “anti-democratic” and “unprofessional.” EBU, of which Greece is a founding member, is reportedly to offer assistance to Greece’s government for the restructure and financial sustainability of ERT while it is open. The broadcaster's television and radio stations were suddenly shut down late on June 11. The move, which is part of the Greek government's unpopular austerity measures, left ERT’s nearly 2,700 staff suspended. The Greek government claimed ERT had become a “haven of waste”. Greece’s major unions took part in the 24-hour work stoppage, which began at midnight on Wednesday, in protest against the government’s decision to shut down the media outlet. Also on Thursday, thousands of people gathered in front of the ERT offices in Athens to urge Samaras to repeal the closure of the broadcaster. Similar demonstrations were held in other cities across the country to protest against the government’s decision to shut down the media outlet. ERT journalists also refused to leave the broadcaster's headquarters and continued their programs live on the Internet into Wednesday. ERT began broadcasting in 1938, running three domestic TV channels, four national radio stations, as well as regional radio stations and an external service, Voice of Greece.” In April, the Greek parliament passed a bill to cut 15,000 state jobs by the end of 2014. The law was a condition for debt-stricken Greece to receive rescue loans from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).