New minister stresses need for independent public broadcaster

A day after assuming a new portfolio as minister for Greece’s state broadcaster, Pantelis Kapsis on Tuesday stressed the need for a new public radio and television network that will be “free from political interference and partisan politics.”

In an interview with Mega TV, Kapsis, a journalist and former government spokesman under the technocratic administration of Lucas Papademos, said that setting up a new, independent public broadcaster to replace the now-defunct ERT would be a daunting task.

ERT has often been criticized of being open to political influence by successive Greek governments.

“I cannot say how we are going to handle this. I believe that [ERT] employees are part of the solution and I hope that they will too, at some point, come to see it this way,” Kapsis said.

Sacked workers of ERT that was shut down by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras earlier this month – causing a rift in the coalition and the departure of junior partner Democratic Left – have refused to evacuate the broadcaster’s former premises in the northeastern Athenian suburb of Aghia Paraskevi.

Dismissed employees and several activists have continued to occupy ERT’s headquarters and maintain online and satellite pirate broadcasts since the government shut down the station and its terrestrial signal on on June 11 in response to mounting demands by foreign lenders to slash the size of the Greek public sector.

Kapsis on Tuesday said that ERT’s signal should be restored in line with a recent Council of State decision on the issue.

“It should be our first step so as to ease the tension before we can start planning the new ERT,” he said.

Kapsis is the son of a former minister and was the managing director at Lambrakis Press (DOL), one of Greece’s biggest media groups.