THE International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have expressed their deep concern about the Greek government’s ‘unacceptable’ plans for the new public broadcaster NERIT, stating that the move will mean the loss of many journalists’ jobs and create a sub-standard, Athens-focused organisation.
The Greek government has announced the formation of the New Hellenic Radio, Internet and Television (NERIT) which is expected to launch in March 2014 and will only have 132 members of staff.
Despite government assurances that NERIT will be a ‘Greek BBC’, the IFJ/EFJ believe that the new station’s minimal number of staff will mean it will not have the resources to be an independent, pluralistic and quality-focused body.
Instead, it is likely to be an Athens-based organisation that is unable to focus on other regions in Greece.
In addition, the IFJ/EFJ say that more than 500 jobs, previously held by highly professional staff with years of experience at ERT, will disappear, meaning the new broadcaster will find it extremely difficult to provide quality programming that is competitive with private TV channels in Greece.
And it is also likely that a large amount of NERIT’s programming will be contracted out to private media companies, despite the Greek Prime Minister stating last June that these companies are ‘sinful’.
IFJ President Jim Boumelha said: ‘Following the abrupt closure of Greece’s public broadcaster ERT and the subsequent eight months of silence, it appears the Greek government is now launching a new broadcaster that will be limited to the barest of necessities in order to justify the collection of the license fee from the public.
‘We stand in solidarity with our affiliates in Greece to call for the government to reconsider its plans and to undertake a new period of consultation with our members’ unions in Greece, politicans, and all other parties concerned before final decisions are taken that could prove fatal for the future of public broadcasting in Greece.’
IFJ’s Greek affiliates have expressed their strong misgivings about the government plans.
In a letter sent to Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, and opposition party leaders, the Panhellenic Federation of Journalists’ Unions (POESY), has stressed that NERIT will be a ‘. . . deformed and dysfunctional substitute for ERT,’ that ‘. . . literally silences and banishes all regions outside the capital.’
Meanwhile, the Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers (JUADN) has issued a statement that questions the process involved in recruiting staff to work at NERIT, claiming that it was ‘non-transparent,’ and the point system used ‘favours applicants with no working experience in public broadcasting over fired ERT colleagues . . .’
And the Journalists’ Union of Macedonia and Thrace Daily Newspapers (ESIEMTH), has noted that public broadcasting in the country’s regions will be ‘throttled’ by the government’s plans, with the ET3 public channel in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, only getting 15 journalist positions.
Offering support for colleagues in Greece, EFJ President Mogens Blicher-Bjerregård, has called on the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to reject membership for NERIT in its current form.
He stated: ‘We call upon the Greek government to withdraw these unacceptable plans and seriously consider the present and future of public broadcasting by taking decisions that lead to major improvements, bear no prejudice and do not leave out experienced and hard-working colleagues.’
Meanwhile, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have condemned the latest brutal attack against a Greek journalist by members of the fascist Golden Dawn party, while also expressing their concern that police did not stop the incident.
According to IFJ/EFJ Greek affiliate, the Journalists’ Union of the Athens Daily Newspapers (JUADN), STAR TV journalist Panagiotis Bousis was covering a Golden Dawn event on Monday evening, 9 December, in the Iraklion suburb of Athens, when party members attacked him, beating him around the head.
The cameraman recording the event for STAR TV was also physically abused and media coverage was prohibited from taking place.
According to JUADN, police were present at the meeting, but did not attempt to stop the attack.
‘We strongly condemn this disgraceful attack by Golden Dawn members against journalists who were simply doing their jobs,’ said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.
‘It is clear that Golden Dawn are no longer just threatening journalists, their actions have now escalated to acts of intimidation and violence.
‘Golden Dawn members continue to use fear and harassment against Greek media and their blatant disregard for media freedom cannot be tolerated.
‘We urge the authorities in Greece to carry out an immediate and thorough investigation into this incident and bring the perpetrators to swift justice.’
JUADN has strongly condemned the attack, reiterating its stance that Greek journalists will not be intimidated by Golden Dawn ‘criminal Nazis’ and stating that the lack of action by police was ‘astonishing’.
Moschos Voitsidis, President of the Journalists’ Union of Macedonia and Thrace Daily Newspapers (ESIEMTH), said that the actions of Golden Dawn were ‘horrific’ and they are resorting to their ‘most cherished belief in violence’.
Voitsidis stressed: ‘The authorities should know that protecting journalists from such attacks is not just a matter of protecting individuals, it amounts to fortifying democracy itself.’
Speaking following the attack, EFJ President Mogens Blicher-Bjerregård, said: ‘It is appalling that these journalists were attacked in such a manner, but also that the police who were present did nothing to stop it.
‘No journalists should have to work under such circumstances.
‘We call on the government, magistrates and police in Greece to do their duty and protect the safety and right of journalists so they can go about their daily work without the threat of intimidation and violence.’
• The financial crisis in Greece is forcing thousands of citizens to emigrate to other European countries in search of employment and better working conditions, a number of reports have confirmed.
The Greek daily ‘To Vima’ recently reported that tens of thousands of doctors and engineers are moving from Greece to other countries such as Germany and Britain.
Germany’s federal statistics service, Destatis, has reported a 5.1 per cent increase in migration from Greece.
Meanwhile, the Belgian government says Greek nationals arriving in Belgium primarily seek employment in the banking and research sector.
According to a recent report published in the Norway Post, immigration from Greece increased by 49 per cent in the year between November 2012 and 2013.
Furthermore, a poll conducted by Kappa Research showed that seven out of ten Greek university graduates are willing to emigrate in order to find employment.
The Kappa study also revealed that 66.4 per cent of those who want to emigrate are looking for a better quality of life, 44.7 per cent are in search of a better job, and 32.6 per cent seek fairer and better job prospects.
Greece has been at the epicentre of the eurozone debt crisis. One in every four Greek workers is currently unemployed, banks are in a shaky position, and pensions and salaries have been slashed by about 40 per cent.
Greek youths have also been badly affected, and more than half of them are unemployed.
The long-drawn-out eurozone debt crisis, which began in Greece in late 2009 and reached Italy, Spain, and France in 2011, is viewed as a threat not only to Europe but also to many of the world’s other developed economies.