International Press Association sees ‘danger to democracy’ in ERT’s closing

The International Press Association issued a strongly-worded statement on Wednesday, criticizing the Greek government’s decision to close down state broadcaster ERT, calling it a «shocking negation of press freedom».

“The International Press Association (API) considers the closure of the Greek public broadcaster, ERT, and the summary dismissal of its 2,656 staff to be indefensible and calls on the European Union institutions to demand an immediate reversal of the decision,» the organization, which represents Brussels-based international correspondents.

“Claims that the Greek broadcaster cost substantially more than similar bodies in other member states or that it was part of a clientilist system operated by some Greek political parties do not justify the action,» added API. «The indiscriminate accusation that hundreds of journalists working at ERT were mere political cronies constitutes unsubstantiated and dangerous populism.”

The association also questioned the swiftness with which the government acted on Tuesday, pulling the plug on ERT just hours after announcing its closure.

“The desire to reform and improve the quality of public services in the country is appreciated and respected, but the interruption of transmission and cutting of the power supply from ERT antennas by police forces, while a breaking news program was on air, just a few hours after the official announcement was made, is a shocking negation of press freedom and represents a danger to democracy.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said that ERT employees would be compensated in full and without delay after losing their jobs