Wednesday, June 12, 2013

ERT, or... how do you spell EBU!

I worked for someone 20 years ago, who, when things ended up in a clusterf@ck state, used to say: it's so bad that you can either laugh or cry about it. Life is too short for crying though.

I remembered him again, when the news hit the streets yesterday about the Greek government shutting down ERT, the national and state owned broadcasting company, effective immediately. Someone from PM Samaras's entourage got off the bed on the wrong foot that morning, obviously. Later in the evening, I listened into a 'makeshift' discussion panel on Deyteron 103.7 (the best radio channel on the planet, by ERT mind you) with few journalists discussing the shutdown and, frustrated as hell, using quite some animosity and a good portion of Greek drama. I know what you're thinkin' : "what would you do in their place, smart ass? They just got fired!!!" Let's not get into this, as the object of this post is not so much to comment the rights and wrongs of the government's unusual and undoubtedly drastic decision, as opinions are like a-holes, like the saying goes. Everybody's got one...

The object is different, indeed. In fact, it's about incompetence. In this case, incompetence refers to the ERT webmaster, the dude who's overseeing all postings appearing on ERT's homepage. Lemme explain.

While listening to the panel, I kept surfing ERT's web pages. My eye fell on a news header speaking about EBU's protest to the Greek government. I never came across the 'EBU' three letter acronym before, so, curious as I am, I linked to the full article. Click on the screen capture above to see what I saw, next. The HTML link to that same page is here. However, kids, don't try this at home anymore; ERT took the page off the air, and it is now displayed: error code 404 - page not found.

There's nothing wrong with the article itself. With just a simple remark; in the article the reporter is referring to the EBU as the acronym for the European Broadcasting Union, which obviously is the right thing to do. But then, what has this got to do with the EBU, like in European Board of Urology, whose homepage is shown in the displayed picture accompanying the article???!!! I'll tell you what. Either a simple and sheer incompetence, or a sort of black humor by someone profoundly pissed!

I reckon, someone from the webmaster's entourage, proficient in English like I am in Mandarin Chinese, went to Google to search for the EBU, and pickup an image to accompany the article with a graphic, a logo of some sort. When you do the same on Google Search you get a number of possible EBU reincarnations, other than the real one (the Broadcasting Union, in this case). The dude took a good look, and his aesthetic instincts as a sky-blue loving Greek, reminiscent of the flag, brought him to the conclusion to use the Urology's homepage instead, which he subsequently screen-captured and posted on the top of the article. And then he hit 'Publish' without realising the extent of the gaffe.

Don't worry; I'm hearing you thinking loud indeed! Sound and clear! Especially the Greeks among you! "So what? Big deal. To err is human! In the moment's frustration after what happened to them yesterday, one could easily expect such a mistake... aren't you being a bit over the top?" You see, in places I worked for most of my life, people got fired for much less than that. Whereas most modern Greeks tend to be overgenerous and forgive everyone graciously, even criminals brought to justice and condemned for fraud, others, like myself, have an extremely low tolerance level for such wrongdoings and mismanagement. We simply believe that certain mistakes cannot be tolerated just like this. The government's frustration on ERT is more than understandable. Too much incompetence has been tolerated in this country for far too long. "Έλα μωρέ" most Greeks would have responded to me. See where these far too many "Έλα μωρέ" has brought us to. Incompetence beyond belief, starting from local government representatives (chiefs and vice-chiefs of the prefectures and regions, not to forget city mayors and their vice mayors) and moving over to other state owned organisations and government ministries, hospitals, universities and regular schools. The stories I heard from friends the last 24 months are good to produce a ten volume series of comedy and drama books. You are not gonna believe y'r fokkin' ears!

I will only refer here to an incident I heard not long ago first hand. An old friend from my hometown has been complaining for a number of years (via loads of unanswered emails) to ERT technicians about the fact that Deyteron Radio Programmes, over the airwaves, were impossible to tune to any place north of Ferres, a small provincial town in the Prefecture of Evros. Reason was a serious interference by Turkish radio signals from over the border. The technicians's reactions kept returning only short of arrogant "Go screw yourself!". It ain't their problem, they kept responding... claiming the responsibility was to be sought elsewhere, etc...etc... In other words, "get the f@ck outta my life, and lemme indulge my siesta instead, and my €5K+ monthly pay..."

There are 2600+ employees working for ERT. Among them, there are some very valuable souls, producing remarkable programmes (radio and TV) that are scarce to find even among quality broadcasters like the BBC (the best broadcasting on the planet per my HO). I'm not sayin'... Yep, there are some good people among the ERT employees. Devoted, professional, correct, creating quality output. I hope they eventually get rehired back into the new organisation. I suspect, however, they only represent a modest sub-segment of ERT's total headcount. The rest, or to be fair, quite a few among the rest (about 60% per an estimate) are useless, a 'waste' (sic) per the government spokesman. The shutdown is the only way to clean house, I am afraid. Hard to believe but in the wake of the chaos that we saw the last 4 years, there is no simpler way. When I was diagnosed with colon cancer a few years ago, I had to go under and get some deep cut in my guts during a five hour operation. I just couldn't have my malice cured taking aspirins or Dafalgan. I needed to go thru the worst period of my life to arise healthy again and good to go. No other way. Same for ERT. Let's only hope there will be a sound new management (like my expert surgeon then) who will make this happen. Re-emerge a new phoenix from the ashes of today's BS organization.

And, by this, my friends, I rest my case... Aldus sprach...

1 comment:

N. Antoniou said...

How right you are? How upset can we all be? BUT I hope that the PM and his entourage will not keep sacrificing ONE entity to save all the other incompetent ones. Greek state loves finding a victim upon which all bad is assigned. Same thing with the ex Finance Minister who will probably end up in jail; he should not be the only one. ERT should not be the only one. Yest there is no Prwto, Deftero and Trito in Greek airwaves at the moment; and that is a shame.