NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • Thousands Strike Greek Gov't Pulling the Plug on State TV


    Costas Lapavitsas: State TV shutdown affront to democracy, time is ripe for Left to gain power -   June 15, 13
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

    Audio

    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter




    Understanding info is a powerful thing. Thank you to all of your reporters for making a significant difference. - Nancy SmithEaken
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Costas Lapavitsas is a professor in economics at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies. He teaches the political economy of finance, and he's a regular columnist for The Guardian.

    Transcript

    Thousands Strike Greek Gov't Pulling the Plug on State TVJESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

    In Greece on Thursday, there was a state-wide protest. Protesters were in the street today demonstrating against the closure of the state television station ERT. The public access channel was switched off in the middle of the night by the government. It sounds so clandestine. But we're here to discuss all of this with Costas Lapavitsas.

    Costas is a professor in economics at the school of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, he is a member of the Research on Money and Finance, and he's a regular columnist for The Guardian.

    Thanks for joining us, Costas.

    COSTAS LAPAVITSAS, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, SOAS, UNIV. OF LONDON: It's a pleasure to be with here with you, Jessica.

    DESVARIEUX: So, Costas, can you explain the significance of how the government decided to close this state-run channel?

    LAPAVITSAS: Well, there were rumors for a little while that something was going to happen to the state television channel, something major was going to happen, but no one quite knew what that was. And then suddenly, couple of days ago, the government spokesman makes a public announcement, very aggressive and very provocative public announcement, in which he accuses the state television company for being all manner of corrupt and nontransparent things and announces [incompr.] evening they were going to shut it down, and that's it. The government had decided to cleanse the Augean Stables of the public sector, and that's [incompr.] they were going to make [incompr.] And that was that. So he announced that with great audacity, I would say, in the morning. And then, lo and behold, in the evening, around about 12 o'clock, the broadcasting systems went out. The government sent the police, and they shut the station down, the journalists made their last transmit, and everything went dark on the television screens.

    Now, this was extraordinary, because things like this, as you can imagine, happen only when there is a coup d'état or when there is war. At least that's how the Greek people think of these things. So quite naturally the people were shocked by this. It wasn't so much the fact that two and a half thousand people would be made redundant. It wasn't that this was simply a company that maybe wasn't making its way in the world, perhaps, or anything like that. It's just the extraordinary nature of it, which actually went to the heart of democracy in Greece.

    Basically, people felt that their fundamental democratic rights were being attacked. This is what explains the flareup of anger and the mass participation in the protests against it. People felt that their democratic rights were transgressed. And they were right to feel so, because indeed they were transgressed. The government announced that it was going to shut down the public broadcasting corporation, keep it shut for an indefinite period of time, and replace it with another outfit when it saw fit.

    It's not a surprise that one after another the broadcasting authorities of Europe and elsewhere have come out and castigated the Greek government for this. The last person to do it is the director general of the BBC, who came out today and said this was completely unacceptable and the Greek government had to reopen the station as soon as possible.

    DESVARIEUX: So if I'm hearing you correctly, it's not just the station that people are protesting, because I've read that only 13 percent of the audience share in Greece actually even watch the station. But it's more about the transgression of people's rights and the government trampling on people's rights.

    LAPAVITSAS: That's exactly right. You see, the share of the public that watches the public broadcasting corporation isn't very great. That's not uncommon, actually, in a variety of countries. The quality, incidentally, is very, very high. It's typically much higher than the private channels. But the proportion of the population that watches it isn't very great.

    Nonetheless, people feel that this is their own station. It's a public station. They identify with it. As part of their character and identity. They think it's part of being Greek, basically, having this public broadcasting corporation. And the way in which it was shut down just like that and the screens turned dark felt like an affront, an affront, and actually something which made people very worried.

    You know, what exactly is happening? People felt like it was some kind of act of war. This was actually a national asset and something that people felt was part of their national identity that was being attacked, hence the response. And the response is very, very vivid. Something very deep has been touched in people in Greece.

    DESVARIEUX: But this isn't supposed to be the death of the public access channel. The prime minister has come out and said that he wants to relaunch it. Is this correct?

    LAPAVITSAS: That's the official declaration, that the station will be relaunched at some point in the future, maybe several months down, and it will be severely streamlined. They will basically lose hundreds, possibly thousands of jobs, and it will be relaunched on a new basis.

    Now, you've got to understand, in Greece, things like this are never taken very well, because a government such as this, which is authoritarian, which has ruled by decree time and time again, is not to be trusted to reconstitute the public sector broadcasting corporation on a democratic and open basis. It gives all kinds of assurances, but no one believes the assurances.

    And, actually, the way in which [incompr.] shut the station down is absolutely no guarantee of a better station to come in the future. When a government dictatorially shuts down a station like that and says, that's it, you'd better get used to it, what credibility can you give it that the new station it will create, when it does, if it does, will operate democratically rather than be an offshoot of the government itself?

    So Greeks are very, very mistrustful. They think that when something emerges, if it emerges down the line, it will be in the pocket of the government at that time.

    DESVARIEUX: And, Costas, what does this have to say about just the policy in Greece, the stabilization, these austerity measures, all of this? How does this fit into that puzzle?

    LAPAVITSAS: Well, it's very much part of the stabilization program and what has been happening to Greece the last three years, you see. This isn't an arbitrary act at all. You've got to understand the government, the Greek government has been making a lot of noise recently about great Greek success. The threat of exiting the Eurozone apparently has passed, and now Greece is set to make a tremendous recovery.

    Now, no one quite believes that, and they are right not to believe it, because Greece is lodged in a very, very deep recession--actually, a depression. Every single bit of data that comes out indicates that the economy has been destroyed. The last batch of data to come out, yesterday, showed that unemployment in the first quarter of this year is more than 27 percent. Believe it or not, it's more than 27 percent. And youth unemployment is more than 60 percent over the three-month period. This is an economy that's been destroyed.

    Now, as that has happened and because that has happened, the government has managed to shrink the fiscal deficit, because it doesn't spend any money, basically, and because it taxes everybody ferociously, and it's managed to shrink the external deficit of the country, because again, the economy has been destroyed and there are no inputs. So the government is presenting this as some kind of great success. The reality is, however, they cannot collect taxes, its revenues are very weak, and Greece is teetering on the edge of a crisis on a regular basis.

    Now, the troika's in Greece at the moment, the people who designed the Greek program, and the troika is demanding that the Greek government stands by its word to sack tens of thousands of civil servants. That's why the government decided to go for shutting down the public broadcasting corporation. It's their way of saying, we will quickly sack more than 2,000 people, throw them out in the streets, just like that, and present it as an act of cleansing the Augean Stables of corruption in Greece and so on. So it's very much part of the program that Greece has been going through the last three years.

    Now, reaction and the response is very, very heartening, because it shows that after about a year and more of passivity, basically, in Greece, people have had enough and are prepared to react strongly.

    Now, the left in particular has reacted very strongly. And in my view there are two things that the left should do right now, two things connected, but not the same. The first: the left must take it upon itself to organize grassroots opposition. It's very, very important that lots of people turn up at the site of the broadcasting corporation, the place is organized, is strengthened, and some kind of grassroots mechanisms emerge that allow the public broadcasting corporation to survive and allow people to make broadcasts even if officially they're not entitled to do it. They must establish their own way of saying in practice that this will not pass, this will not be accepted, this is a transgression of democratic rights and it will not be accepted. That's the first thing.

    The second thing that the left must also do would of course be to challenge the government at the parliamentary and aggregate level. It's time this government went. It's a very, very unstable government. It's an authoritarian and actually I would argue essentially corrupt government. He has been applying all the measures that the E.U. has imposed on Greece ferociously. It's time it went. All it requires is a push, really, to tip over, because there's such anger in the country. It's up to the left to do it. And I think the left should feel the obligation it has towards the Greek people, and actually towards history, and get on with it.

    The conditions for forming a government of the left in Greece are ripe. They are there. What is missing is a little bit of decisiveness, some bravery. And I think it's about time we saw that on the part of the left in the coming period.

    DESVARIEUX: Well, thank you for joining us, Costas.

    LAPAVITSAS: Thank you.

    DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    End

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7)

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting