Less than a week after CyBC chairman Makis Symeou called it quits, four members of the state broadcaster’s board on Tuesday handed in their resignations.
The four board members were named as Nikos Kouzoupis, Giorgos A. Georgiou, Giorgos L. Georgiou and Alexis Alekou.
In their letters of resignation to the interior minister, all four cited the slashing of the organisation’s budget. The state has cut CyBC’s budget by €5.5 million.
In his letter, Giorgos L. Georgiou referred to legislation currently being drawn aimed at restricting CyBC’s revenues from commercials.
“It is clear that the intention is to downgrade the role and mission of public television and to victimise a large number of employees,” Georgiou said.
Ex-chairman Symeou, who stepped down last week, said he was unable to draft a budget that would be catastrophic for the organisation and see people lose their jobs.
In his resignation letter, Symeou said it would be impossible for the broadcaster to continue to operate under its current structure – with the reduced state assistance for 2014 – if there was no restructuring or dismissal of a large number of staff.
Speaking to the CyBC yesterday, interior minister Socrates Hasikos revealed that the public broadcaster employs around 600 people with a wage bill of €16m a year.
“The CyBC’s pension fund already has a deficit of €100 million. Who will pay for that?” he asked.
The interior minister added that comparisons should not be drawn with Greece’s national public broadcaster ERT, shut down by the Greek government in June.
“The CyBC is not shutting down now, nor will it shut down,” he said.
“We say the €5.5 million must be cut immediately and a study done at the same time. We will not wait for the study to finish in order to proceed with the cuts that are required today,” Hasikos said last week.
Following Symeou’s resignation, the minister said that CyBC cannot be considered the ‘sacred cow’ of semi-state organisations
The minister said the government did not have any choice but to impose cuts on CyBC’s budget, as it did elsewhere.
“Savings start from the top – government, ministries, state and semi-state organisations, down to Joe Public,” Hasikos had said. “No one can be exempted from this effort.”
Hasikos said money could be saved from programming as well, but if there was a need to cut staff then it must be done.
“Certain people should have thought about the overstaffing problem they were creating when they brought personnel from private sector companies with problems,” Hasikos said, meaning the previous administration.