Greek Lawmakers Approve Bill to Establish New State Broadcaster

Greece’s parliament approved the creation of a new state television and radio service following the closure in June of former public broadcaster ERT.

Lawmakers approved a bill to create the new service by 155 votes to 104, Deputy Parliament Speaker Christos Markgiannakis said in remarks carried live on state-run Vouli TV.

Greece plans to recruit 2,000 people July 22 on two-month contracts to staff a transitional state broadcaster, Pantelis Kapsis, deputy minister responsible for establishing the new service, told lawmakers before the vote. The contracts will be renewed until the permanent broadcaster is established, he said.

The government of Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was shaken last month after the departure of the Democratic Left party, one of two coalition partners, because of a decision to shut down and suspend 2,600 jobs at ERT and create a new, smaller company. Samaras’s New Democracy party must now rely on its historic rival, the socialist Pasok party, to govern. The two control 155 of the Greek parliament’s 300 seats.

The so-called troika of Greece’s international creditors comprising the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission did not make closure of ERT a prerequisite for continuing to receive bailout funds. The government in Athens acted in “full autonomy”, European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn told the European Parliament on June 12.

The closing of ERT made up half of 4,000 outright dismissals of state workers for 2013 that Greece agreed with the troika in February 2012, Administration Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said July 9. Another 11,000 so-called mandatory exits will take place in 2014.

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