Put Public Broadcasters Back on the Air

Target: Prime Minister of Greece Antonis Samaras

Goal: Cancel closure of state-run TV and radio broadcaster

Recently, the Greek government unexpectedly shut down public broadcasting station ERT (Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation). In response, unions in Greece began a general strike in protest of the closure. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras claims that he has to cut the broadcaster until the end of the summer when a new station opens. ERT must be allowed to work without disruption.

Austerity is bringing Greece down – from children searching in trash for food at schools and bending over from hunger pains to high rates of unemployment. These are the consequences of the bailout terms that the Greek government has agreed to, and passed an austerity budget to show for it. Now freedom of the press and democracy itself are on the chopping block. As many as 2,500 employees lost their jobs without notice. International Press Institute Deputy Director Anthony Mills told New Zealand’s Scoop, “At a time of national crisis, the Greek public…are being deprived of a crucial channel of information.” ERT is the most reliable source of in-depth news coverage. There are six private stations, which are presumably biased in favor of the political views of their respective owners.

Above all else, this move does not make financial sense. ERT is financed by a fee attached to electric bills in Greece. This fee has been running a surplus in the last several years.

The decision to shut down public television and radio stations is bad fiscally and democratically. Keeping in mind that the Greek austerity program already cost the country one million private sector jobs, which are closely tied with government financing, the country cannot afford to have more unemployed people. Urge Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to put ERT back on the air.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Samaras,

Greece is in a fiscal crisis, and democracy in this situation is crucial. People have the right to know what is happening in the country. ERT is a trusted source for information, and needs to be kept open. ERT is financed by a fee tacked to electric bills, which has been running a surplus for the last several years. It is not costing the government money.

Because of the decision to shut down public television and radio stations, 2,500 people lost their jobs, adding to one million jobs already lost in the private sector. Greece cannot have more unemployed people, who cannot afford food, shelter, and whose children are looking in the trash to feed themselves. The government’s role is to take care of its citizens.

Please put ERT back on the air, give people their jobs back, and ensure that democracy and freedom of speech do not suffer because of austerity.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Miyoneza via Flickr

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