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Greek state TV continues to broadcast after being shut down

With the help of the European Broadcasting Union, ERT news is now appearing on a TV channel available to Greek satellite subscribers.

Greece austerity ERT closesEnlarge
Thousands of demonstrators gather outside the Greek public television and radio broadcaster ERT headquarters in Athens northern suburb, after Greece's government announced on June 11, 2013 the immediate closure of ERT in a move that reportedly affects about 2,700 jobs. Hundreds rushed to the main premises of ERT in the northern Athens suburb of Agia Paraskevi to show their support, shortly after the announcement made by government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou. (LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Greece's state radio and television company, ERT, is continuing to broadcast even though conservative Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ government shut it down at midnight on June 11.

Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said in a surprise announcement on Tuesday afternoon that the taxpayer-funded broadcaster was an “incredible extravagance” that the financially struggling country couldn’t afford. 

More from GlobalPost: Greek TV shutdown prompts outrage

While the government literally cut off newscasters in mid-sentence when it blacked out screens on Tuesday, ERT staff in Athens and Thessaloniki continued broadcasting via a live stream on the Geneva-based European Broadcasting Union website, Ekathimerini reported.

Now, the EBU is taking the live feed of ERT’s news channel NET and retransmitting on a television channel that is available to Greek satellite subscribers, the Guardian reported.

The organization is using prepaid satellite time the ERT purchased before its shutdown.

A senior government official told Ekathimerini that closing the station and firing its 2,600 employees was the only way Athens could meet a EU and IMF goal to reduce Greek state payrolls by about 2,000 workers.

The government said a smaller state station would be launched at the end of August, but protesters who marched outside ERT's headquarters on Thursday — more than 13,000 turned out — said a few months without a state TV station would be bad for democracy.

"Samaras can't tell us what to watch or not,” said protester Thanos Lykourias. “This isn't about ERT or about its workers any more, it's about democracy and freedom of speech.”

Journalists who have refused to leave ERT headquarters since Tuesday are asking for the station to be switched back on.

“We ask the president of the republic to demand from the government to respect the Constitution and stop violating fundamental democratic rights. We ask him to guarantee that the police forces will not invade ERT," a group of employees said in an English language statement released late Thursday, according to the Guardian.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said he was willing to host talks with two junior coalition parties opposed to the shutdown next week.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/130614/ert-greek-state-tv-continues-broadcast-after-being-shut-down