Mick McManus throttles Greek shutdown news
There are three observations I have to make this morning about the switch-off of Greek State television:
1. In the United Kingdom, it’s as if it never happened. The BBCNews channel isn’t carrying the story at all, it isn’t even at the Telegraph under “News – eurozone’, and at the UK’s Balanced News site covering all UK papers, there isn’t a single mention of it.
2. Where the story has been covered by international media and news sites, there is a hook, line and sinker swallow of ‘to save cash’ as the motive behind the move.
3. Brussels hasn’t reacted to the news at all. One of its eurozone members shuts down the main TV and internet reception (plus radio) without warning, and yet the EU sees no problem posed for free speech at all. They will, of course, have known about the shut-down in advance – and ERT isn’t exactly the most independent State telly on the planet.
I am left to ask the questions that the MSM doesn’t seem interested in, viz:
1. If the stations have been such a money-pit shambles for years, why did drug, hospital and teaching staff cuts come first?
2. If the shutdown was purely to save money, why didn’t New Democracy tell any of its Coalition partners – both of whom have condemned the move?
3. Why does all the feedback I’ve had from Athenian and expat contacts thus far suggest the move is political – given they come from a broad spectrum of political views:
“The ERT building on Mesogion is now totally surrounded by MAT police. FYI these are the worst, most violent branch of the police, the anti-terrorist police….PASOK & DIMAR refused to sign [the decree which] gives the government the power to shut down public entities – it seems WITHOUT a vote in parliament.”
The hurdles facing the Greek government when cutting down the State to size are indeed formidable; and the Troika is back in town dishing out it’s usual mix of the illegal and the impossibly silly. But the argument that New Democracy shut down the station purely to save money simply doesn’t hold water. Quite apart from the factors enumerated above, it seems that PASOK supporters exist in higher numbers in TV and radio, and if the ‘coalition’ (now revealed as a sham) wanted to purge the public sector of 2,500 employees, it could fire the New Dawners who have so perniciously infiltrated the police force there. The employees at ERT represent under 1% of State sector jobs, and a much lower percentage than that of the overhead.
The two most disturbing trends here are not consulting PASOK, and not including Parliament in the process. Effectively, this makes the decree one of ‘Special Powers’ emergency importance. The closure of ERT looks like Greece’s Reichstag Fire moment to me. But not, it seems, to the mainstream media or the EU. When the British press think that the funeral of ancient, washed-up wrestler Mick McManus is more newsworthy than the closure of a national European broadcaster, we might as well write them off entirely to a diet of yelling through letter boxes at celebs, and setting up two-bit political Yeomanry whom the proprietors dislike.
Further to recent posts about the accelerating speed of careering towards Crash2, we should all be aware that not all the symptoms will be economic. Stay tuned.