Two years ago today, Greece’s Conservative-led coalition government of Antonis Samaras closed down the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, ERT (ΕΡΤ) with less than 12 hours notice.
All 2500+ of ERT’s staff were fired with immediate effect; there were protests all over Greece; the now jobless ERT employees barricaded themselves in to studios across the country and continued broadcasting online, even after riot police had cut the cables feeding the transmitters.
It was not for several months, following an early morning raid by the police, that ERT’s studios were completely clear of protesting workers.
Since May 2014, public TV and radio in Greece has been under the name of NERIT (ΝΕΡΙΤ – Νέα Ελληνική, Ραδιοφωνία, Ίντερνετ και Τηλεόραση); with a fraction of the staff, 2 TV channels and just 4 radio stations – the latest station opening in January this year.
One of the key promises of Alexis Tsipras’ ΣΥΡΙΖΑ (Coalition of the Radical Left) party in the lead up to this year’s election was to completely reverse this.
The closure of ERT was the one act of Samaras’ Conservatives I could not support, so I was pleased when this morning, at 6 o’ clock Athens time (4 o’ clock in the UK), NERIT was officially dissolved and ERT returned.
Employees laid off in 2013 were offered their jobs back, and the old TV and radio stations came back on air.
On TV, the national anthem marked the return of the broadcaster, as N1 became ERT1 and NERIT Plus became ERT2. The well known theme tune of ERT News returns. Later in the month, Northern Greece’s channel ERT3 will also reopen.
Meanwhile, in the radio studios, Proto, Deftero, Trito and Kosmos scrapped the NERIT station branding and returned to the station idents the used prior to 2013.
Plus the radio stations ERA Sport, Voice of Greece, ERT3 Makedonia and the regional radio stations returned (or will be returning gradually) to the airwaves.
It’s fair to say that, while I am no supporter of Alexis Tsipras, I do think the reinstatement of ERT was much needed. The country once more has a fully functional public service broadcaster. Not without its problems, but at least proper TV and radio schedules are in place now.
Have a listen to the ‘new’ ERT radio stations online at www.ert.gr, now with a ‘Listen Again’ facility which enables you to scroll back ove the previous 24 hours worth of programmes.
I’m going to tune in now to the Third Programme and listen to that as I climb in to bed tonight.
Welcome back ERT. Remember… you can’t spell NERIT without ERT.
Also, all the presets on my radio will work again when I’m in Greece in a couple of months time. Hooray!
Bye for now…