Greek state broadcaster remains 'on-air' despite government's move to shut it down

Saturday 15 June 2013 00.05
State broadcaster ERT was described as a 'symbol of waste and lack of transparency'
State broadcaster ERT was described as a 'symbol of waste and lack of transparency'

Greek state broadcaster ERT remains "on-air" despite the Greek government's surprise move to shut it down with the loss of nearly 2,700 jobs.

Using a combination of company-owned and personal equipment, ERT staff are producing interviews and debate from their studios and broadcasting them via streaming.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras insists ERT was a "symbol of waste and lack of transparency".

The move to close the broadcaster is designed to help Greece meet its debt bailout obligations.

There has been huge opposition to the closure, which prompted a nationwide strike and brought thousands onto the streets in protest.

Seeking to avert political instability, Mr Samaras has invited two left-wing junior coalition parties opposed to the shutdown to talks next Monday.

A senior government official said Mr Samaras was open to discussing their proposals and a compromise was likely, though he did not intend to back down from closing ERT and relaunching a smaller, more efficient entity.

"I believe there is scope for compromise and we will not go to new elections," the official told Reuters.

The partners, who want ERT switched back on immediately, welcomed the meeting, but kept up a critical broadside.

"The country doesn't need elections, they would be a colossal mistake, but PASOK is not afraid of them," Socialist PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos said.

"We support a radical restructuring of ERT, but not with blacked-out screens."

The coalition has regularly bickered over austerity policies and immigration issues.

Opinion polls show both PASOK and Democratic Left would struggle to keep their share of parliamentary seats if elections were held now.

Mr Samaras's New Democracy has widened its lead over the hard left Syriza, but would fall well short of the majority needed to govern alone without smaller allies.

Keywords: greece, ert
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