Greek Public Broadcaster Back on Air After Court Victory

Scott Roxborough

A Greek court has ordered state broadcaster ERT back on air while the Athens government argues over how to restructure it, a move that could defuse the crisis sparked by the sudden shutdown of ERT last week.

The ruling by the country's top administrative court appears to support the move by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to radically slim down the network as part of Greece's overall austerity measures. But it reverses Samaras' decision last week to abruptly pull the plug on ERT, a move that sparked protests and triggered a political crisis that many thought could result in new elections.

STORY: Supporters of Greek Public Broadcaster Call for Euro-Wide Protests

Instead, the leaders of the parties making up Samaras' governing coalition now have more time to agree on a restructuring plan for ERT. The conservative Samaras has called ERT a haven of waste and corruption and vowed to slim down the tax-backed network. Many Greeks agree that ERT needs to be restructured but Samaras' decision to suddenly pull the plug on the broadcaster without any public debate sparked street protests, with thousands coming out to demonstrate outside ERT's headquarters in Athens.

While ERT was pulled off the public airwaves, employees at the channel continued to broadcast  over the Internet. The European Broadcast Union (EBU), an association of European public broadcasters, supplied a satellite hook up to carry the ERT signal, a move that led the Greek government to threaten the EBU with legal sanction.