Greek officials failed to reach an agreement on the status of public broadcaster ERT on Thursday night, throwing the coalition government into further disarray. Following the abrupt closure of the broadcaster by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on …
Greece’s Council of State has ruled that while the government had the right to shutter public broadcaster ERT, its signal must be restored until a restructured service is established. After meeting with coalition partners on Monday, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras arranged for a new round of talks on Wednesday to discuss putting a temporary version of ERT back on air. In what’s been seen as an attempt to appease Greece’s creditors by slashing more than 2,500 public service jobs, Samaras ordered ERT to cease broadcasting last Tuesday. That set off protests and nationwide strikes, although ERT journalists continued to stream news over the Internet. The Council of State’s ruling went some way towards appeasing ERT workers who applauded the decision which was also welcomed by the European Broadcasting Union. But a question remains over the impact the brouhaha will have on Samaras’ fragile coalition government.
A State Council decision on whether to grant a temporary injunction freezing the order to shutter Greek state broadcaster ERT is expected this afternoon, the Kathimerini website reports. The news comes as broadcast chiefs from around Europe have called on Greek authorities to reopen ERT after the government ordered it to cease operations on Tuesday. Over 50 public media CEOs, directors general and presidents including the BBC’s Tony Hall and leaders of Danish broadcaster DR, France’s France Télévisions, Germany’s ARD and ZDF, Italy’s RAI and Spain’s RTVE, have condemned ERT’s closure as “undemocratic and unprofessional.” (The station’s news channel NET was back on air for satellite subscribers late on Thursday, however, as the European Broadcasting Union implemented a workaround to take the feed from a Thessaloniki studio and retransmit it via the EBU’s Athens earth station.)
Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has taken a step towards quelling the situation by inviting two left-wing junior coalition parties opposed to the shutdown to talks next Monday, Reuters reports. A compromise may emerge, but a government official told the news agency that Samaras is not expected to reverse his decision to launch a leaner state broadcaster in late summer. A source also told Reuters that cash-strapped Athens was under pressure to show EU and IMF inspectors that it had a plan to fire 2,000 public employees, and ERT was the only option available.