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Greece's state broadcaster ERT back on air after two years

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

Greece's state broadcaster ERT went back on air on Thursday, two years after being closed down under austerity measures.

The radio and television channels shut in June 2013 after the then-government called it "a haven of waste".

The left-wing Syriza party made the reinstatement of ERT a key pledge in January's election, which it won.

The party said all of the more than 2,600 staff made redundant in 2013 have been offered jobs by the station.

"It's a special day for all Greeks, for those who love Greece and for those who love freedom of information," presenter Nikos Aggelidis said at the start of the first show on Thursday.

"We're nervous. We're very touched."

His co-host Vasiliki Haina said: "It's a special day for us, a difficult day."

ERT's television channel went off air in the middle of a programme, and viewers saw only a black screen. There had been no warning of the channel coming to an end.

The decision to end ERT, that cost €300m (£219m, $337m) to run, led to protests on Greek streets.

But some said the network was plagued by cronyism and had appeared immune from cuts and reform.

While ERT continued to broadcast on the internet, a smaller-scale replacement, Nerit, was introduced in May last year.

Nerit enjoyed moderate success despite a smaller staff, and secured Champions League football coverage and rights to broadcast the Eurovision song contest.

Nerit's television operation merged with ERT on Thursday morning.

The letters N and I were removed from the sign on Nerit's building to spell ERT earlier this week.

ERT will be funded by a €3 surcharge added to electricity bills - less than the surcharge before it went off air.

Greece's government, which is fighting to secure loans to help stabilise the country's finances, called the reinstatement of ERT "a victory for democracy".

 

bbc.com

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