ActiveWatch invites journalists to make a common cause by asking the Greek Government to reconsider its decision to close down the broadcasting of public radio and TV channels in Greece.

The broadcasting of public radio and TV channels in Greece was shut down on Tuesday night. All employees of the media public institutions were laid off. This decision was taken on the basis of a rushed legislative act, which was voted and enforced in 24 hours. The Government’s spokesperson justified this decision by accusing the public television of wasting public money: “ERT (the Greek state television) is a characteristic case of lack of transparency and incredible waste. This (situation) ends now” (Simos Kedikoglou, cited by Associated Press).

“This intervention is both antidemocratic and hypocritical” ActiveWatch president Mircea Toma said. “The act of suspending people’s access to one of the few sources of information of public interest is the heaviest blow against freedom of expression by a public administration since the fall of communism in Europe. The Greek Government managed to exceed communist dictator Ceausescu’s absurd solution who, on the basis of cutting down costs, decided to reduce state television broadcasting to two hours a day at the end of the 1980s.”

Moreover, the main argument in defense of this decision is false. The Greek Government is compelled by European partners and the IMF to reduce public spending in order to benefit from foreign loans intended to safeguard the Greek economy. All governments agree that reduction of the public spending means decreasing the pressure on the public budget. But, the Greek public media support themselves financially through extra budgetary public funds – the radio-TV tax directly collected from citizens – and that makes the Government’s aggressive intervention an example of hypocrisy at the highest level.

Therefore, we ask all journalists who still believe that the core mission of journalism is people’s access to information of public interest to come together in support of their fellow colleagues in Greek public media and request the Greek Government to reconsider its catastrophic decision for the purpose of ensuring a democratic society.

ActiveWatch / CC BY 3.0