Friday, 14 June 2013

Getting over inERTia

The defiant ERT is continuing to broadcast its propaganda, painting it out to be a sickening plight which has befallen it, as it becomes a victim of a political crisis. The ERT staff who are still running the former broadcaster in rogue fashion continue to expound their propaganda, and have mustrered great support from the whole of Europe's broadcasting bodies. In summary, one could say it's all 'You can't do this to us!', while the other side is saying 'Yes we can'.

This morning, I caught them discussing the new proposed name of the new proposed structure of ERT, which will soon be called NERIT. The announcers are mocking the pronunciation of the state-chosen acronym, saying it sounds Turkish (they know what the Turkish language sounds like, with all those Turkish serials playing on the private channels), and now they find fault with the 'I' word, which stands for INTERNET: "How can it be possible, the announcer exclaims, for a Ggreek acronym to use an Eenglish word? They should have used ΔΙΑΔΙΚΤΥΟ (DIADIKTIO) which means 'network/internet'. Oh you bozos, that would have made the acronym sound like NERD in English - the Turkish sounding acronym solves that dilemma nicely.

Those who wish to rebrand ERT really have no idea how to reinvent and rejuventate it. This NERIT business is hardly a global way of looking at our unique contribution to the world's TV services. It does not sound like something Greek. What were ERT staff doing all those inertia years? Don't be surprised if something as simple and Greek and effective as a name like 'Hellasnet' has already been taken by other more prodigious executives. The anglicisation of a Greek business might cause disturbance, but then little is left for us to choose, because we are just too damn late in getting into the game. (Personally, I'd stick to ERT - it's not the name that needs changing!)

What did ERT offer me, so that i could be moved enough to bring ERT back? Let me think:
ERT was there for us to see a paniyiri in a hokey-pokey Ggreek village, a church service in one of the more important churches of the country, the ceremony of a new archbishop, euro(bloody)vision, the Greek news of the day (if the staff werent actually on strike, as they were for three months last winter), the foreign news (in BBC translation - it was mainly day-old news titbits), what the diaspora was up to, what is happening in other Balkan countries (they were well travelled, one could say), some translated nature programmes (not high calibre ones, just cheap-os), sport programmes, and politicians' speeches.

I was surprised once to catch a pre-crisis ERT programme where the hosts went to London and interviewed famous authors, including Ian MacEwan. I wonder how many Greek villagers needed to see that. MacEwan was filmed walking around in his neighbourhood, saying hello tofriends who asked him who his friends were, and he said something to the likes of 'Oh, some Greeks are interviewing me for their television'. Nicely condescending, if you ask me, but if you asked the Greek interviewers, they would have said he was MacEwan was a nice man. Greeks rarely get the innuendoes that more globally aware people would understand from little quips of this sort made in English. It's the same reason why my husband took a long time to understand why the English 'Have a nice day' could also mean 'Fuck off.' (He asked me once to give him a good translation of 'Στα κομματια να πας', similar to 'Άι σιχτίρ'.)

I am not missing anything from ERT, even though I was one of the 4-5% who claimed to watched mainly ERT. I can watch similar things on other channels or even the internet . I am more than happy to wait for something better to come along. The people who have supposedly lost thier jobs can reapply for those new positions and I may even see the same faces once again. Don't forget that it is now summer; before the crisis those geysers went on holiday for two whole months in this period and all we were served up was κονσέρβες, re-runs of re-runs. Shame on them for thinking that in the last four years since the crisis broke out, they could remain secure while everyone else was losing their stability.

How neutral was ERT in the first place. They were the state of the voice: they could not be neutral! Were Greek political scandals ever brought to light by them? NO! They were all part and parcel of the same ring! One of the better facebook status updates I have seen about ERT is
ERT has closed, so from now on, whoever wants to hear some lies will have to watch MEGA [a private Greek channel]!
What would I like to see happening wiht the new ERT? Well, it has to cost the taxpayer much less than the pithy 50 euro we were paying, which I suppose can be achieved with lower staff numbers. lI'd like to see more emphasis on home-grown grass roots movements, much less glamour, something I can't see about Greece/Greek life on the internet. I don't want the state's view on anything. In that case, I'd be paying for a propaganda machine. Let's face it, I don't really need ERT because I am bilingual and can find other news/TVv services. Most of all, I want ERT staff to show the same patience that many other Greeks have had to muster to cope with the crisis - I want them to be more mature.

If you are watching the free defiant ERT now, you will notice that they are only talking about themselves, projecting their positive image - how about raising discussions about the negative issues? How about publicly announcing that they are willing to work on a basic minimal start-from-scratch wage, like many other workers have had to resort to? They are not saints for me. They were just public servants, and they knew just how well they had it in the past. Well, it's over, that's what they have to admit first to me, for me to back them.

Seriously, why should I miss ERT? When the crisis broke out, I recall the anti-nazi programmes they played when they were on strike. That was a clear sign of modern German resentment! And when they played out ad nauseum the Smyrna disaster because it was the 90th anniversary last year, it was all about being anti-Turkish! Do you think my kids let this go by unnoticed? Never mind what they were learning at school - look what was happneing int he home: They would say, 'Oh, the Germans are bad', or 'the Turks are bad'. Do you think they were able to place these news reports in a historical framework?! Then they had their mother trying to explain to them that things aren't quite like that, and their father saying that actually, they are. This is the closest my husband and I get to fighting - we see the same issue in a different way, even though we agree on the same things!

The only new thing I noticed last year was a willingness to admit to historical mistakes, like the Dekemvriana of 1944, something that was never talked about in public in the past. It's part of our civil war history, a nasty period in Greek times when brother turned against brother, and the Greek communists had to leave the country and go to live in Russia (they began returning in the early 90s). But that all happened because the state decided to let people talk about this issue, and ERT was the state's propaganda machine. The historical programmes were mainly state-opinionated productions: that's where Greeks in the tiny remote island villages got their opinions from. They have no other signal to rely on;, they are now seeing black, although I did find a frequency showing ERT yesterday. But even so, by the end of the month, only digital TV will be available to us - we would have been seeing black too, if we hadn't invested in digital technology and cable TV. And I waited this long to do it myself...

On this note, the new ERT mustn't be a little clique for the old workers. In this way, I can be sure that newer ideas will be initiated and maybe younger people entering ERT (or NERIT, or NREDT, whatever it is going to be called) will not be churning out the propaganda of the past, as was being done for the last few decades. It's time for a revamp, and it's time for new blood: I am tired of Elli Stai's withered bony face which has appeared on every news show on every news channel. It's time for Greeks to start competing for those positions, through the job interview, not the bloody list of the next intake to hog a chair. That is the way our schoolteachers are still being chosen. No one is cheching their mental state, their interests, their extra-curricular work. The Greek public service still operates with inertia; backing down on closing ERT will be a way to reinforce the inERTia of our recent past. It felt so good, we don't want to leave it.

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