Greek public TV signal back on air after month-long shutdown

An employee enters the state broadcaster ERT TV complex in Athens, on June 28, 2013. Greece's public television signal was back on air on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, nearly a month after the government shut down the country's state broadcaster to
An employee enters the state broadcaster ERT TV complex in Athens, on June 28, 2013. Greece's public television signal was back on air on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, nearly a month after the government shut down the country's state broadcaster to cut costs. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

ATHENS (AFP) - Greece's public television signal was back on air on Wednesday, nearly a month after the government shut down the country's state broadcaster ERT to cut costs.

A backdrop reading 'Greek public television' (EDT) and featuring a globe and coloured waves was being broadcast on the main digital frequency formerly occupied by ERT.

"This is a transitional phase. Very soon the new public television programme will be on air," Pantelis Kapsis, the deputy minister responsible for public TV, told private Mega channel.

The government intends to run a temporary programme until it can hire staff for a new broadcaster by autumn.

The government turned off ERT on June 11, claiming the historic broadcaster was hopelessly inefficient and ate up 300 million euros (S$490 million) a year.

The shutdown caused over 2,600 layoffs.

Greece's top administrative court later ruled that ERT's shutdown was within the state's rights, but it told the government it still needed to have public broadcasts in some form as soon as possible.

ERT's demise caused a major political crisis and nearly brought down the government, which was accused by international media groups of authoritarianism.

ERT staff refused to accept their dismissal. They took over the station's headquarters north of Athens and have maintained a rogue broadcast since June 11, with assistance from the European Broadcasting Union.