Greek public television channel ERT may have been shut down, but rather than disappear, the station has gone underground. Meanwhile, the government of Antonis Samaras is trying to build up a new broadcaster, free of the patronage that plagued the old.
The search for Greece's public broadcaster of the future is a complicated one. Initial clues lead one to the Athens suburb of Paiania, where a studio that used to belong to the private station Mega is located. Is this the origin of the films that Greeks have recently been able to watch on the public broadcaster ERT? Studio employees say that those responsible have already left, on their way to the Greek Press Ministry. There, however, one is told that there is no knowledge of any studio. "Nobody here can tell you anything," says a visibly anxious employee.
Finding the old state television station is much easier. The ERT building in downtown Athens, which already stands out, is now covered with posters from employees who have been essentially occupying their employer for more than a month. They refuse to accept that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras unilaterally shut down ERT as a particularly egregious example of public waste. "I turned on my television at home," says a 32-year-old technician, "and I suddenly heard that as of midnight I would no longer have a job."