On the shut down of the Greek public media; how much does it take to destroy a country?
(Photo: Greek citizens gathered outside ERT’s HQ in Agia Paraskevi, Athens to protest against its violent closure. ERT workers continue to broadcast online, as ERT’s antennas across the country were sealed by the Greek government as of midnight 11.06.2013, through the aid of riot police)
In (yet another) unexpected move, the far right Greek government headed by PM Antonis Samaras, announced the immediate shut down of the public broadcaster, ERT, and along it the closure of all public TV and radio stations across the country. ERT’s shut down followed six hours after its announcement by the government’s public representative, Simos Kedikoglou, a person that started his career in public TV and later moved to private TV, working as an entertainer in morning shows, before continuing his career as a conservative politician. Samaras’ circles decided the closure of ERT behind closed doors, without public or even parliamentary deliberation.
Under the pre-text of austerity, Samaras and his associates propagandize that their decision to shut down ERT – the Greek public TV and radio- is to save up “costs” and to shack supposedly surplus workers, in accordance to IMF’s instructions and plans. They also played the divide and conquer card again by blaming yet another sector of workers as more “privileged” than the rest, aiming to trigger spite of a violently pauperized Greek society, largely traumatized by continuous neoliberal assaults and social “shock” programs for over three years now, in order to generate social cannibalism among the people belonging to the same social class, threatened by the same problems.
Samaras’ circle proposes to re-open a new, much more limited public media sector that will include far fewer channels (both radio and TV). Samaras plans to sack about 2700 workers (to be added to the 1.500.000 of the country’s unemployed), and to hire 600 ones for the new set they plan to launch from September 2013. Critiques argue that the new, “reformed” public media will be much more controlled by the state and will resemble YENED, military Junta’s TV during the early 1970’s in Greece.
Samaras and his associates propagandize that this way they will cleanse ERT from clientalism and corruption. What they do not say is that they are the last able to fight clientalism or corruption; Samaras’ party, New Democracy along with PASOK, based their power since 1975 on clientalism. They often used ERT as their property in order to hire and to sack those that would help them maintain their political and economic interests. It is therefore the same thing they pursue once again, this time serving Greece’s private media, which are equivalent to quality and validity with channels like FOX News in the USA, or Berlusconi’s media.
The cost of ERT’s closure, has more economic and social costs than gains. ERT is not funded by government budgets but by its own revenues, which bring about many surpluses to the Greek state budget. In other words, they aim to close down another profitable public corporation.
The shutting down of ERT, also means the destruction of its stable capital, ERT’s technical resources. ERT’s shutdown also means the dismantling of some of the best philarmonic orchestras and choirs of Greece. Furthermore, it means the destruction of quality broadcast, related to high forms of cultural, educational and social programs, as well as the decline of balanced news reporting. What is also sad to note, is the possible destruction of ERT’s rich archive, which was fully digitalized and available to all online and is now taken down by the Greek state. This resource included everything that has been put in film and tape throughout Greece’s history.
The reality behind ERT’s sudden and dictatorial closedown, is the Greek government and Troika’s aim to privatize everything; by closing down the public TV, Samaras’ state curbs the antagonism pose by ERT to private media, and therefore “liberates” space for private media monopoly by Greek and foreign media moguls.
A second reason is purely political; the extreme right-wing government of Samaras, composed by neo-fascists like Makis Voridis and Adonis Georgiadis, wishes to do away with independent public voices. Public TV allows adequate space to the government’s main opposition forces. The anti-leftist hysteria of Samaras and the interests his party and government represent, in relation to the very thin electoral victory his party achieved in June 2012, in connection to the utter failure of the policies his government pursues – even by Troika’s standards – summon a rather precarious future for his personal and party’s reign and the continuation of the neoliberal reforms pursued in Greece.
Critiques argue that Samaras’ action has to do with his reign’s deteriorating legitimacy in the face of its failure to deal with Greek people’s problems (deteriorating by austerity and privatisations pursued by Samaras and co), despite its spectacular campaigns of a supposed “success story” of his government – a case reprinted in many foreign media, particularly German ones, as Samaras has been firmly supported by Merkel and other conservative and neoliberal politicians in Europe, as well as from capitalists in Greece and abroad.
The minor parties constituting Samaras’ government, PASOK and DIMAR, are against the closure of ERT. This is a further crack in the governing coalition. The first crack occurred after Samaras’ deny passing an anti-racist law, in order to curb the escalating nazi violence and xenophobia in the country -a case that proves that New Democracy sees possible future allies i nthe neo-nazis.
Besides Samaras’ New Democracy, the only party in favor of the shutting down of ERT is the nazi scum of “golden dawn”. If Samaras does not back down, his government will collapse -as it will not be supported by PASOK and DIMAR any more- and elections will follow. Samaras’ associates already stated that a coalition government of New Democracy with the Golden Dawn nazis, is a possibility in the case they achieve another thin electoral victory with no-other parties willing to support them. A fascist capitalism may therefore be Greece’s next shock treatment, in order to proceed with the country’s further neoliberalisation.
What is clear, again from the above, is that “free market” nonsense, requires a lot of gruesome state intervention, and is hostile to any sense of democracy. In a democratic state – even by Greek standards, where democracy has always been particularly limited and weak- it takes a lot to destroy the institutions and the social relation as well as the social identities and values constituting a given society. It is also clear by now that debt is used to privatize Greece and to enslave its people to a life with no economic, social or political rights and with the lowest possible form of dignity, in order to loot its wealth and its potentials. In this context, all emergency governments of Greece, functioned as useful puppets to the economic and political elites organizing the post-crisis setting of Greece and the rest of Europe.