Interim Greek state broadcaster resumes news programming

Greece’s new state television channel began airing news programs Wednesday, more than two months after the government’s abrupt closure of the state broadcaster, ERT, drew international condemnation and led to a severe political crisis.

The move came as Europe’s public broadcaster said it was halting its relay of programs by the sacked workers of the now defunct ERT, who have been occupying the company’s building and producing 24-hour programing in defiance of the closure.

Greece’s conservative-led government abruptly shuttered ERT in June and fired all 2,700 staff, citing the need to cut costs due to the country’s severe financial crisis. The ensuing outcry led to a small left-wing party withdrawing from the country’s fragile three-party governing coalition, leaving the government with a tiny majority in Parliament.

ERT’s sacked workers, meanwhile, took over the company’s headquarters in Athens and continued to produce programs. The European Broadcasting Union sought to help them by streaming their broadcasts by satellite and on its website.

The EBU announced earlier this week that it would halt its streaming of those programs Wednesday morning, citing news that ERT’s interim successor was to begin news programing. So far, a temporary state broadcaster set up after ERT’s closure had been airing mainly documentaries and old Greek movies.

ERT unionists, however, said the sacked workers would continue their programing via the Internet.

Greek authorities recently announced that more than 500 people had been hired on a two-month contract for Greece’s new interim state broadcaster, which so far has born the simple logo of ‘Public Television.’

Its first news program, a two-hour broadcast that began at 8 a.m., focused mainly on the analysis of domestic news by a panel of journalists, but also included international news items based on the BBC website and al-Jazeera footage.