Greek state-run broadcaster ERT (which included five TV networks, 29 radio stations, a weekly magazine and an orchestra) was suddenly shut down last week as part of a cost-cutting effort demanded by the country’s international creditors.
Now, in the midst of local and international protests against ERT’s sudden shut down, new information has been unveiled regarding the fate of the government broadcaster. Some of these latest information was gathered for VideoAge by John Triantafyllis, who runs acquisition and distribution company JTTV International in Athens, Greece and prepares an annual report on the Greek and Cyprus TV markets (the most recent is published in VideoAge’s June/July Issue),
ERT will be renamed NERIT AE (New Hellenic Radio, Internet and Television), and the anticipated launch date is August 29. There will be between 1,000 and 1,200 employees, a decrease from ERT’s former 2,780 employees. During the hiring process, priority will be given to those who recently lost their jobs and who have contributed to the broadcaster over the years. Reportedly, ERT had up to eight times more employees than it actually needed to operate.
The operational budget will now be derived from both advertising and levies. ERT was formerly financed with 300 million euro per year from a licensee fee linked to the electric bill.
According to the new broadcast statute, a stronger supervisory council with seven members will be put in place for a nine-year period, with the president serving a three-year term.
Reportedly, the Greek government believed that it was impossible to fix the infrastructure of ERT without shutting it down, and NERIT AE will start with a fresh slate and will be free of any tax obligations.
NERIT AE will be geared toward the general public and will initially consist of two TV stations, one in Athens and a second in Thessaloniki (ex ET3).
Greece has relied on rescue loans from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund since May 2010, and closing down ERT marked the first instance of mass public sector layoffs. The country has committed to cutting 15,000 state jobs by 2015 as part of the bailout.