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Greece

Greek court orders broadcaster ERT to be re-opened

Greece's top court has canceled the government's closure of public broadcaster ERT. The ruling orders the broadcaster to re-open on a "temporary" basis until a new national media body can be established.

News of the Council of State's ruling Monday was met with applause by the thousands of people outside ERT's headquarters in a northern Athens suburb. The decision came after a complaint filed by the ERT union.

The ruling ordered Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, or ERT, switched back on until a restructured public broadcaster is launched.

ERT staff had been occupying the broadcaster's offices in Athens, Thessaloniki and other major cities since Prime Minister Antonis Samaras announced its closure last week. The staff had established a rogue broadcast on the Internet with the help of Greek radio stations and the European Broadcasting Union.

The prime minister held emergency talks with his junior coalition partners Monday night to discuss his decision to shut down ERT. The Socialist Pasok and Democratic Left parties had objected to Samaras' decision, which had been made without their approval.

Hundreds of supporters of the main opposition Syriza party had also gathered in Athens' Syntagma Square to protest ERT's closure. The decision six days ago had rekindled anti-austerity protests in the country.

Samaras' New Democracy party claims operating ERT costs the government 300 million euros ($400 million) per year, yet accounts for only four percent of Greece's viewer ratings – less than half of its private competitors.

The government has promised to compensate ERT's nearly 2,700 employees and proposed a plan to set up a new public broadcaster with less than half the staff by the end of the summer.

dr/rg (AFP, dpa, AP)