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Greek new state television starts broadcasting


08:30, July 11, 2013

ATHENS, July 10 (Xinhua) -- A new interim Greek public television channel went on air on Wednesday, a month after the sudden closure of state broadcaster ERT in the context of efforts to overhaul civil services and tackle the Greek debt crisis. The step had caused strong reactions, leading to a political crisis.

"Greek Public Television" (EDT) started broadcasts on Wednesday evening with a classic Greek film transmitting from the premises of a private production company, since ERT's headquarters are still occupied by the protesting 2,600 dismissed employees.

According to Deputy Minister responsible for public television Pantelis Kapsis, EDT will be broadcasting films and documentaries for the next few days until a team of journalists will be hired shortly to start covering the news.

Under the government's plan the new public television and radio service NERIT (New Greek Radio, Internet and Television) which is expected to be operating with less personnel, will be on air in two months. A bill for NERIT's establishment is currently debated at the parliament.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' move to shut down ERT overnight as a "hub of waste and corruption" and dismiss all staff sparked protests which led to the withdrawal of one of the junior parties from his coalition government three weeks ago.

The conservative leader and his socialist coalition partner defend the overhaul as a necessary change under the austerity and reform program implemented since 2010 under bailout deals with international lenders in order to slash deficits and restore growth in Greece.

With ERT's shutdown the government inaugurated the mass sackings of civil servants for first time in decades, overturning a constitutional guarantee of a job for life for employees in the public sector.

Following marathon negotiations with European Union and International Monetary Fund creditors in order to secure further rescue loans, Athens pledged on Monday to proceed with no further delays to the layoffs of 4,000 civil servants by the end of this year and pave the way for the dismissals of up to 12,500 employees in 2014.

The resumption of television broadcasts on Wednesday prompted the anger of ERT employees, Press unions and opposition parties which condemned the step as unacceptable.

As employees of the former broadcaster continue broadcasting via live stream, insisting on the reopening of ERT with all personnel, press unions called a work stoppage for all private television channels on Thursday "in solidarity with ERT employees."

Meanwhile in protest of the new set of policies pushed by the government after the fresh deal with lenders, and in particular the planned mass layoffs, the two umbrella unions of public and private sector employees ADEDY and GSEE called a general strike for June 16. On the same day the multi- bill containing the measures is expected to be put to vote in parliament.

Protesters claim that the new round of harsh steps will fuel unemployment and recession. The measures were requested by lenders as prerequisites for the disbursement of further vital bailout tranches to Greece in coming weeks.

Email|Print|Comments(Editor:YaoChun、Liang Jun)

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