The occupation of the national TV

Vortex: A person from Athens who was already involved in the movement when the rebellion started.

Submitted by Uncreative on January 21, 2011

NET is one of the three national TV stations. It's broadcast all over the country. What happens there, everybody sees it. And the whole thing took place on Tuesday December 16. If I remember correctly the idea was proposed by this friend who knew people working within the media industry and knew how it functioned. They know both how to use complicated equipment and also a few of them knew their way into the specific building. I’m not sure if the whole thing can be called an anarchist action because not everyone who participated was an anarchist. Most of the people were definitely libertarian, and a lot of them were artists. People who worked in film, actors, documentarians, but all of them very moved by the killing of Alexis. And some of them had only started becoming active after the killing. So we started meeting in this basement for about a week trying to organise the whole thing. It wasn’t easy because we had to be very precise with our moves. The goal was to interrupt the three o’clock news program, which is their major broadcast. Everyone is at home for the afternoon break at that time so we considered this to be the best moment. The difficulty was deciding who was going to do what, how many things we were going to do and who is going into each room. We had three main targets. One was the control room. It controls the studio, and from there you can see what’s going on inside the studio. The other target was the master room. From there if something goes wrong they can cut off the signal. And the third target was the station president’s office.

We had to be certain which room was on which floor, and some of the people who had a way in and out of the building gave us the necessary information. We made various maps on big sheets of butcher paper stuck up on the wall so we could memorise the basic plan of the building. It was vital not to look hesitant when we got there, so no one would stop us and ask us where we were going. A good map was absolutely necessary to the action. You can’t go in looking like someone who is in there for the first time. When you’re familiar with the location, you walk with certainty The psychology of the action is very important. There were some older people involved in the action and they were the most hesitant. As the day came upon us, they started doubting our chances for success, and that caused problems during the discussion because they raised stupid questions.

The three rooms were on three different floors. We had to be very precise with the timing, down to a precision of seconds, more or less. The people who entered the master room would be the first team, so that the technicians there would have no chance to switch off the signal when they found out what was going on in the studio. We said that this team should get into the master room thirty seconds or a minute before the people who entered the control room. We had decided that the people who would enter the studio would not talk, they would just hold up a couple of huge banners. The news anchor would get out of the way and all of a sudden you would see banners from inside the studio. One of them said, "Don’t just watch us. Everyone get out in the streets", and "Freedom to the Prisoners of the Insurrection", and a small one said, "Freedom to Everyone."

Both of these teams included people who knew how to use the equipment. You also had to have a person who knew how to use a TV camera. We had decided that the people holding the banners, about ten of them, would wear masks if they wanted to. But not all of them did because the people who had decided to be in front of the cameras were not hardcore anarchists, most of them were artists. Perhaps they saw it as more artistic than subversive. But in any case none of them had the aesthetic of koukoulofori, the masketeers. At first I thought it would be a good idea for everyone to mask up, but I saw that the whole action was successful and I saw that these people were sure of themselves. So you know, if you don’t mind I don’t mind. And it was a courageous act.

The third team would get into the office of the manager, with the goal of calming him down - because he has TVs inside his office and knows exactly what’s going on inside the building - and not let him call the police. This team failed. The others were very professional, but this team failed. This guy could not be calmed down, and we had decided not to use violence. He went crazy and ran out into the hall, screaming.

We didn’t go in from the main entrance because you had to leave your ID there, but there was a side entrance that they used for equipment. Because there were about fifty of us, which is a big number, we had decided that we would enter in pairs within a time period of two hours. So people started going in already from one o’clock, so we wouldn’t draw attention. We all had to be dressed well, quite formally I wore a suit, nice shoes, nice trousers. And we also said everyone should have some sort of prop with them, a folder, a CD, papers, something to signify that you’re going to deliver something at an office, that you’re there for a reason.

I was in the team that took the master room, and our team had to be quick and if need be a bit... I wouldn’t say aggressive, but we had to let them know that we knew why we were there and we weren’t joking around. So the goal was to get in and tell them to get their hands away from the control panels. There were some big guys in this team. We had to look scary I did the talking: don’t touch anything, get away from there, blah, blah, blah.

The goal was to stay on the air about five minutes, which was very ambitious. And we hoped that by that time the helicopters wouldn’t have come and we’d have enough time to leave the building. There was a big cafeteria on the first floor of the building where we would all meet afterwards and all exit the building together, making sure we weren’t leaving anyone behind. Each team was responsible for knowing if they were all there.

I got to the building around two o’clock, going in with another guy from my team.We entered through the side entrance and we went straight to the cafeteria, which we knew the location of, thanks to the maps. We already knew how to get there, which way to turn, et cetera. And by 2:30 I think everyone was there, and everyone was in the cafeteria, all pretending not to know each other. After quarter past two, it was basically only us in the cafeteria. Before that were lots of other people from the building, because it’s a big building. But we were all acting, being normal, being social. We had decided not to go in at three when the news started but to let them broadcast for ten minutes. First everyone had checked out the rooms they needed to go to be sure it was all according to the map, and then went back to the cafeteria. A lot of people were visiting the toilets because they were stressed and had to pee.

At seven or six minutes past 3:00, everyone was outside their target room. So at 3:09 I put on my gloves, because I didn’t want to leave fingerprints, and we crossed the hall, and got in. Well there was a problem, we got confused at the last second whether that room was the right one or whether it was another one, so we were a few seconds late.When we got into the master the second team had already invaded the control room, just seconds before. We were lucky because the people in the master were busy with something and they hadn’t realised it yet.I had learned professional names for the equipment so I could pretend I knew what I was talking about. What I had to say was “Nobody touches the master, keep your hands away from the PLF!"I still have no idea what a PLF is. There were only two people in there, and one of them grabbed the phone. I grabbed his arm and said, "No, you’re not making a call for the next few minutes. No one is going to get hurt, we’re only going to be here a few minutes, and then we’ll go." It was important to let them know we were friendly.

The people who were working in the control room completely freaked out when our team came in and replaced them at their seats. The director started screaming, someone had to calm her down. We didn’t stay for five minutes, in the end only two minutes or a little less, because there was another room, it turned out, that could interrupt the signal. And we hadn’t known about that. That was an element of misinformation. So after a minute and a half they put on advertisements. The lucky thing was that because we had decided to invade at ten past 3:00, they were broadcasting a live feed from the Greek Parliament where the prime minister was talking, and all of a sudden there was a fade in, fade out. One second the two pictures were together, and then the PM disappeared completely and you could only see the people with the banner.

When the commercials ended we saw from the monitors that our people were leaving the studio, so we said "thank you," and left. The whole time we didn’t use any elevators so we couldn’t be trapped in them, we took the stairs down, met in the cafeteria, and threw flyers into the air as we left. The general manager continued to freak out completely and he went live and announced that they had been attacked by a group of anonymous people.

Some of the people holding the banner were known artists. While we were leaving people were coming out of their offices. Everyone in the building has screens so they had seen what had happened. And they came out to see who we were as we were leaving. Some of them were quite happy with us. I think they might have even clapped, but I don’t remember.

Outside of the building there were two police officers in the yard. They saw us but they didn't do anything, because there were fifty of us. Someone in our group went to calm them down to make sure nothing would happen, saying that it was all over and we were leaving. One of them tried to make a joke, saying “No problem. It's good to see that you can do things without being violent." We all stayed together for a block and then we scattered.

A similar action happened in Patras. And a week before, there had been a similar proposal in an anarchist assembly and some people argued against it, not wanting to be part of the spectacle and to put ourselves between advertisements. Most of them did not favour such an action but when they saw it happening I think they changed their minds. It was a very impressive thing. Afterwards this video got replayed on all the other channels.