June 12 - Thousands are protesting outside the headquarters of Greece's state broadcaster ERT over the government's decision to close it to cut costs. The news emerged as equity index provider MSCI lowered Greece to emerging market status. Joel Flynn reports
It's been trying to sell off assets for months. But the government's decision to pull the plug on Greece's state broadcaster has provoked widespread anger. And unions representing ERT's 2,600 workers are fighting back. SOUNDBITE President of ERT Workers Union, Panagiotis Kalfayiannis, saying (Greek): "This is an unconstituional and undemocratic global first - the government has no boundaries, they have decided to send all of Greece into poverty." The government says it's not a move to muzzle the media and it will relaunch a slimmed down version of the channel by early autumn. SOUNDBITE: Greek Government Spokesman, Simos Kedikoglou, saying (English): "There was no other way, frankly because already in the past months most of the time ERT was not broadcasting, at least no news, ok? The journalists were striking because they wanted more special status without regarding what is happening generally in the Greek public sector." Opposition parties are demanding a rethink, saying no reform package can justify the axing of a state broadcaster. But Greece is clearly in a bad way. Equity index provider MSCI has downgraded the country to emerging market status. It could hinder Greece's efforts to escape six years of recession Bob Parker from Credit Suisse. SOUNDBITE: Credit Suisse Senior Advisor, Bob Parker, saying (English): "Perhaps this is regrettable for Greece, but I think it is inevitable that they were moved from the developed market category to the emerging market category, where the characteristics of the Greek economy and exchange fit very much the criteria for emerging markets." Greece hasn't met the "developed market" criteria for the past two years. But the Athens bourse traded at two month lows after the downgrade and it will be a blow to the coalition government. So too is the reaction to ERT's shock closure. Further strikes are planned, with talk now suggesting early elections could be triggered.