Greek government back in talks to end TV crisis

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 | Finance News

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's governing coalition parties are to meet for a second time in three days to try and end a political crisis triggered by the closure of state broadcaster ERT.

Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will hold talks later Wednesday with coalition partners — the Socialist Pasok and Democratic Left parties — who have opposed his decision to switch of ERT's signal and fire all its 2,700 employees.

Pasok spokeswoman Fofi Gennimata demanded that the government switch ERT's signal back on, in compliance with a high court decision this week.

But conservatives insist the public broadcaster will remain off the air until a more efficient state TV and radio network is set up.

"It's fairly simple. A mistake has been made and it must be corrected," Gennimata told private Vima FM radio. "It requires bravery to correct a mistake. But that is necessary. It's not acceptable for an elected government to fail to comply with a high court order."

Gennimata denied reports that senior members of her party were seeking Samaras' replacement as prime minister.

Fired ERT employees have continued unauthorized broadcasts since the broadcaster's June 11 closure, streamed mostly online and on disused analog frequencies, and have even expanded regional TV and radio programming this week.

ERT was axed as international pressure is growing on the bailed out country to fire public servants and speed up long-term cost cutting reforms aimed at making the country's budget and national debt sustainable.

Samaras has described ERT as an organization under excessive union control that could not be reformed without closure. Opponents counter that ERT's problems stem from decades of political interference in programming and hiring decisions.