Minister tunes in to ERT impasse

ERT employees hit back on Tuesday at the government over the public broadcaster’s closure, saying the shutdown would cost up to 500 million euros, as Pantelis Kapsis, a former newspaper editor and managing director at Lambrakis Press, was appointed to the Cabinet to oversee the service’s restructuring.

Kapsis said that his priority is to get ERT, which has been off air since June 11, broadcasting again. “We have the chance to make a leap forward and create a new broadcaster which matches the expectations of the Greek people and is free of party politics and interventions,” Kapsis said.

The government appears to be set on a short-term solution that would involve about 2,000 of almost 2,700 ERT employees being rehired until a new broadcaster that would employ only 1,000 people is formed. Kapsis, who is a deputy minister at the Culture Ministry, did not elaborate on his intentions. In an op-ed in the Ethnos newspaper on June 12, Kapsis expressed support for overhauling ERT but disagreed with the decision to shut it down, describing it as “social barbarism” and “placing a mine” under the coalition.

The union representing ERT workers, POSPERT, said its members had no intention of abandoning the broadcaster’s headquarters in Aghia Paraskevi, northeastern Athens. The union said that the compensation for sacked employees, the canceling of contracts for TV and radio programs and the loss of revenues from coverage of events that had been paid for would end up costing the government 300 to 500 million euros.