Greek Pubcaster Is Ordered Back On the Air, Told to Restructure

Filmmakers fret over possible loss of promised funds from ERT

ERT Greece
Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

In a  Solomon-like ruling, Greece’s Council of State ordered that pubcaster ERT resume regular terrestrial transmissions immediately, while undergoing draconian restructuring. The court also said the government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had been within its rights to pull the plug last week.

Government talks are expected to resume Wednesday about how to keep regular programming  going at ERT, until it is replaced by a leaner pubcaster with less than half the current staff of 2,700.

ERT’s news service has been airing via satellite since June 13, two days after its shutdown, when the European Broadcasting Union came to the rescue and started beaming the feed into Greek homes as protesters rallied outside ERT headquarters in Athens.

The feed showed ERT workers breaking into applause late Monday when the ruling was announced. The ERT orchestra reportedly played an old news jingle to cheering supporters outside the building.

But for many Greeks, including the country’s film community, there isn’t much to cheer about.

“That place was really a nightmare: everybody was aware that a lot of money was being spent in very unclear ways,” film director Olga Malea (“Little Greek Godfather,” “Honey & The Pig”) told Variety.

That said, ERT’s sudden closure is proving a disaster for Greek filmmakers.

“Many projects that had been approved for ERT financing are now up in the air. We don’t know if they will ever pay up. This is a major blow to our entire film industry” lamented Malea, who has little hope of recouping ERT funds for her latest pic, psychological drama “Marjoram.”

When the cash-strapped conservative government announced the blackout, it fired most of ERT’s 2,700 workforce, claiming it was a bloated and wasteful enterprise.