The economic situation in Greece appears to go from bad to worse these days. Yesterday the BBC reported that the Greek government are to close the national broadcaster, ERT. Protests ensued and again the image of Greece as a bankrupt state is re-inscribed. This move has serious repercussions, not only for Greece's future participation in Eurovision of course, which until now, ERT have done very well to remain a part of (through private sponsorship) but also for civil society. Earlier today the European Broadcasting Union issued a statement urging the government to reconsider their decision.
The existence of public service media and their independence from government lie at the heart of democratic societies, and therefore any far-reaching changes to the public media system should only be decided after an open and inclusive democratic debate in Parliament – and not through a simple agreement between two government ministers.
This move comes as more austerity cuts hit the country. Arguably there is a need to reform ERT however to simply cut the line, quite literally, as the government have done, is worrying. There was no debate, no platform for consultation, it's almost as if Greece are heading for authoritarianism. ERT is the equivalent of the BBC in Greece, it's almost unthinkable that one day two ministers could decide to pull the plug. Public broadcasting is important for civil society and in a country where the swing to far-right groups has been massive, it's arguably more pertinent than ever that Greece's public broadcasting services remain in operation. ERT is also incredibly important for the Greek community abroad. It seems when it comes to balancing the budget, culture and identity don't feature in the final shake-up. Worrying times ahead and I fear it'll only get worse for the ordinary people in Greece.