June 18, 2013

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Highest Court In Greece Slams Closing of ERT But Justifies Gov't For State Firings!

The Hellenic Council of State which is Greece’s highest court, on Monday ordered that state broadcaster ERT can resume transmissions. However the court also upheld the plan by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to replace ALL of ERT with a smaller broadcaster and this of course includes all of the staff! ERT was shut down by the government last week, although it has continued to air pirate broadcasts on the Internet, and via satellite, through the European  Broadcasting Union.

The news of the ruling came as Mr Samaras and his coalition partners (PASOK Socialist chief Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIMAR) head Fotis Kouvelis) were holding crucial talks. Both Venizelos and Kouvelis said they objected to the sudden shutdown of ERT on June 11, but they both had agreed to the firing of public workers.

After the three hour meeting, Venizelos told reporters that everything was still up in the air because of the inconclusive ruling of the state court and that a second meeting was scheduled for June 19 in order to make some sense of the effect of the court decision.

Some reports said that Samaras told both leaders that he would hold a reshuffle of the government at the end of the month, and more or less include some members of both parties in the new government, but these reports have not been fully confirmed. It is suspected that they are coming from Venizelos' side, or PASOK-friendly press sources, who want the socialists to regain power in government and are urging Venizelos to use ERT as a reason to pressure Samaras.
     “A reshuffle is urgently needed,” Venizelos said in a televised statement.
On his part, Kouvelis said that all ERT channels must reopen immediately, adding to the confusion about what would air on ERT and who would oversee the temporary reinstitution of programs since it was closed down.

Basically the decision means that ERT can resume transmission until a final ruling is issued in the case, but this does not mean that it will do so with the same personnel.

Several unions of ERT had brought the case to the court in a bid to block the government’s surprise closure of the broadcaster last week as well as safeguard the jobs of its members, but the decision backfired on the unions.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras offered a compromise to let a skeleton staff resume operations of news broadcasts on ERT until a new, slimmed-down version with 1000-1200 workers would be recruited from the former staff. The new staff could begin late in the summer, or by the end of August.

But the decision by the Council of State now changes everything.

Editor - (Nice try Venizelos and Kouvelis... but using ERT as a reason to get more of your members into the government is not going to cut it!)

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