Censorship in Greece – Samaras Closes ERT

Antonis Samaras

It is with great sadness that I see that the Greek public TV broadcaster, ERT, has been shut down by the Greek government, under the orders of Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras (who, incidentally, is a lying prick of the highest order). Naturally, a trawl through the comments on various media sites reveals a multitude of ill-informed comments from people telling the Greek people what they should do and how they brought it upon themselves. Of course, most of these geniuses have never been to Greece, but that does not stop their incessant lecturing and posturing, or save us from their sense of overriding smugness.

We have the usual stupid comments, about how it is a good thing that the public broadcaster has been shut down, that ERT should be a private station, or that the money should be spent elsewhere (maximising profits for German and French banks, in other words). Rupert Murdoch (an obnoxious prick of the highest order), must be beating his wizened little genitalia with sheer glee at this example of clamping down on freedom of speech. A little censorship in Greece makes the the neo-cons very happy.

Greek Broadcaster ERT as a Public Good

Rather than being a communist-socialist shack, as ERT was charmingly referred to by a member of the enlightened Golden Dawn party, the broadcaster provides a valuable service for many Greeks. Some examples of this are radio services and regional programs in isolated villages and islands. Cultural programs, art, history, travel, and educational programs are included in the broadcaster’s output. ERT also offers reasonably balanced news that offers a break from the tripe served up by the private channels: when they are not ranting on about the latest celebrity shite, their news is so politically biased it is unbelievable. Finally, people in rural areas rely on ERT for its excellent farming and shipping forecasts and, if inclement weather blocks off local communities, local radio provides a lifeline and allows the authorities to issue instructions.

Golden-Dawn-Nazi-Salute-1024x6In other words, it provides a service for the public good. Considering that most of the people who watch ERT regularly are elderly, I have no problem paying a small charge so that they can watch ERT. It’s the least that we can do, considering what they have endured during their lifetimes. The TV license in Greece costs 4 Euros every month, added to the electricity bill. It’s not a lot of money (granted, it you are unemployed, with no benefits, then it is a lot of money), but that is very little when compared to the few hundreds of Euros every year that the government adds to the electricity bill as tax. Personally, I think it is great value for the news alone.

ERT also has many other attributes: it has extensive historical archives which captured many long lost parts of Greek history over the broadcaster’s 75 year existence. These are priceless. How long before they are packaged up and sold off to one of the private companies for way below their market value? Perhaps I am being cynical, but I suspect that they will be sold off and that the Greek people will have to pay to access their own history. Such is the determination in the current Greek government to sell off anything that is not nailed down.

For all those who claim that state broadcasters are undemocratic and that private TV is the way to go, you know very little about the Greek media. The private companies are mainly owned by oligarchs and, although most channels lose money, they make up the shortfall because they know that they can buy political favours. As a result, the news reporting, in general, is unbelievably skewed towards the government. Think Berlusconi (a lecherous old prick of the highest order) and you are in the right ballpark.

Arrogant Internet Users

I have read so many people making the facile argument that, in the age of the internet, TV and radio news is irrelevant and that people should find their news online. This particular attitude leads me to question if they were born with even the tiniest piece of common sense. I live in a village where over half the population are over 75: are you trying to tell me that these elderly people should suddenly join the digital age and become internet savvy. Just because you can use the internet does not mean that everybody can, so please stop making arrogant assumption that, because you can do something, everybody else should be able to.

Add to that the fact that, in many areas of Greece, due to difficult terrain, internet services are slow and unreliable. For many, television and radio are the only lifelines. Anyone living in Greece understands this, but most of the people making such trite comments and stating things as fact know less than fuck all about the country, its history, and its unique culture. In other words, their opinions are almost entirely worthless.

 Part II of this Article


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