The Slatest

Greece Is About to Lose Its Public TV Stations

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

Photo by Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

At midnight tonight, Greece’s public TV broadcaster will go dark —indefinitely. ERT, which has been on the air for more than 70 years, is the latest casualty of Greece’s campaign to pare down government spending in the midst of a debilitating recession. More than 2,500 employees will be let go and (surprise!) they’re not happy about it. The BBC spoke with one such soon-to-be-unemployed worker:

An engineer at the broadcaster’s multimedia department who gave his name as Yannis said: “The government announced that channels will shut down at midnight - after that the screens will go black. … According to the government, from tonight I will be unemployed. It is a complete shock. In four hours’ time I will not have a job.”

The broadcaster—which runs three domestic TV channels and four national radio stations—is funded directly by a roughly-$6 monthly fee added tacked on to Greek elecriticy bills. The 2,500 laid off today will join the estimated 27 percent of Greeks who are already unemployed. That number is unlikely to go down anytime soon. As a condition of receiving nearly 9 billion Euros in aid from lenders like the European Union and the IMF, Greek Parliament passed a law in April approving the layoffs of 15,000 state worker lay-offs by the end of next year.