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Live blog: ERT shutdown, day 6

Coalition leaders' meeting underway

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Welcome to today's live news blog, where we will be covering all the latest developments from ERT. Please remember to hit the refresh button on your browser in order to see updates. Follow us on Twitter @EnetEnglish for more updates

A woman enters a radio studio inside the ERT headquarters, 17 June 2013 (Reuters) A woman enters a radio studio inside the ERT headquarters, 17 June 2013 (Reuters) Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos arrives the prime minister's office earlier (AP) Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos arrives the prime minister's office earlier (AP) Livestream from the ERT headquarters:

 


Welcome to today's live news blog, where we will be covering all the latest developments arising from the political crisis sparked by last weeks' sudden shutdown of the national broadcaster ERT. Please remember to hit the refresh button on your browser in order to see updates. Follow us on Twitter @EnetEnglish for more updates

23.05 This is where our blog ends for the night. Thanks for following!

23.00 The coalition leaders' meeting has concluded. Speaking to reporters, junior coalition leaders Fotis Kouvelis and Evangelos Venizelos welcomed the Council of State's decision. Venizelos stressed that “no government can go against the majority of parliament... this is what happened in ERT's case," before confirming that there will soon be a government reshuffle and a revision of the government's programme agreement. The coalition leaders will meet again on Wednesday.

22.55 A specially appointed manager will have the right to either retain ERT's staff or proceed with as many layoffs as he deems necessary, the head of the Council of State, Konstantinos Menoudakos, has said regarding the council's decision.

22.45 The Council of State ruling does not cover ERT's two orchestras and choir, so it's unclear what their fate will be.

22.15 Following a KKE rally on Agia Paraskevi Square, Mesogion Av has reopened to traffic.

22.10 Sources tell the AMNA news agency that the government is tomorrow expected to reappeal the Council of State's decision.

21.30 The Council of State has decided that the public broadcaster should remain open during its restructuring, requesting that all ERT frequencies and websites be restored immediately.

21.15 Samaras will reportedly also propose the appointment of a new deputy minister whose sole responsibility will be the restructuring of the public broadcaster.

21.10 Sources within the government have told Reuters that Samaras will try to reach a compromise with his coalition partners by offering to allow the immediate restart of ERT broadcasting.

21.05 Addressing a Syriza rally on Syntagma Square, party leader Alexis Tsipras has lashed out against the prime minister, saying: "Mr Samaras, after your decision to muzzle public television and information, you're finished!"

20.50 According to media reports, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will present his coalition partners with a proposal to set up an administrative committee which, with the help of the BBC or another trusted advisor, will run the public broadcaster while its restructuring takes place.

Samaras is also due to announce a government reshuffle which will take place in two weeks' time and request a revision of the government's programme agreement.

20.35 Yorgos Avgeropoulos and his Exandas Documentaries team have released a short documentary on ERT's shutdown. English subtitles will be available tomorrow.

ΤΟ ΧΑΜΕΝΟ ΣΗΜΑ ΤΗΣ ΔΗΜΟΚΡΑΤΙΑΣ from Yorgos Avgeropoulos on Vimeo.

20.30 The Council of State is expected to announce its decision on ERT's closure within the next hour

20.25 The EU's Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn has urged the coalition government to find a solution on the issue of ERT's closure as soon as possible, stressing that “the last thing Greece and Europe need is another political crisis.”

20.20 Another international organisation has rowed into the debate on ERT's shutdown. In a statement, Amnesty International expresses its concern over the sudden closure of the broadcaster and "the implications of this measure for the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to seek and receive information, particularly at a time of a serious economic and political crisis".

"While the authorities have announced plans for the establishment of a new public broadcaster in August, for the time being, many people, in Greece and abroad, who relied on ERT for a range of information on political developments and for other content in the Greek language, are currently deprived of it," the human rights organisation said.

20.10 Streets surrounding Syntagma and Agia Paraskevi Square are closed for traffic as Syriza and KKE are staging demonstrations in solidarity with fired ERT employees. 

20.05 ERT reports that, according to sources, Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos will present his coalition partners with an alternative proposal on public sector layoffs.

20.00 A Syriza demonstration on Syntagma Square is underway. Party leader Alexis Tsipras is expected to address the rally any minute now. Here's a photo of the crowd taken about 15 minutes ago: 

19.50 After the leaders' meeting concludes, Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos is due to make statements from the party's headquarters on Ippokratous St.

19.35 The leaders' meeting has started, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is also attending.

19.25 Junior coalition leaders Evangelos Venizelos and Fotis Kouvelis have arrived at the Maximos Mansion for a crucial 7.30pm meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

19.10 A Council of State decision on ERT's closure is expected later tonight or in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

Following an appeal by the federation of television and radio personnel (Pospert), the council is expected to consider whether to temporarily overturn the government's decision to shut down ERT before issuing its final verdict in September.

A meeting is underway between the council's president, Konstantinos Menoudakos, and lawyers representing Pospert and the government.

18.45 How much do ERT journalists make? If you believe the prime minister and the New Democracy members of the government, the broadcaster has been "sinful" in how it was wasted money over the years. But in the last hour, Giorgos Kogiannis, an ERT employee and former head of news at the station, has tweeted the following figures that show that while salaries of regular staff may be somewhat higher than the national average, they are far from extravagant. The same, though, cannot be said for the salaries of those appointed to the broadcaster by the government.  

Position  Monthly salary (gross) Monthly salary (net)
Administrative staff 1,922.89  1,210.93
Technicians  2,224.43 1,409.84
Programmers 1,878.05 1,234.84
Journalists 1,989.02 1,312.95
Average  2,040.82  1,293.86
     
Political appointees    
Special advisors 2,774.74  
Special positions 3,453.33  
Personal assistants  1,668.54  
18.30 Press unions have suspended the strike in solidarity with ERT that they had called in certain media, for 24 hours from 6pm this evening. The strike had applied to newspapers which had defied the strike over the weekend. 

18.20 Some of you may have heard of RadioBubble, a citizens' journalism iniative based in Athens that we've mentioned here from time to time. RadioBubble is now broadcasting live from ERT's studios, with the occasional English-language contributions. You can listen in here

17.45 Journalist Michael Nevradakis of Dialogos Media – whose name will be familiar to EnetEnglish readers who follow us on Facebook – has written an extremely detailed piece for the Daily Kos chronicling the shutdown of ERT, Greek government censorship and much more. It's well worth a read.  

17.35 Daniel Cohn Bendit, the French MEP and leader of the Greens in the European Parliament, has spoken live on air at ERT's studios, where staff are continuing to broadcast six days after the government shutdown the station. Underlining his belief that "public television should be an independent organisation not a government-led one," Cohn Bendit accused Samaras of "acting like Erdogan". Saying that "I am the boss and I do what I want" was not democracy, he continued. 

The MEP also stressed that Greece cannot afford elections as the outcome might be a right–far right coalition between New Democracy and Golden Dawn. Earlier, addressing bloggers, Cohn Bendit said "the biggest danger in Greece is a coalition between Samaras and far right". 

17.30 Here's what's been happening during the day and what we have to look forward to:

- The coalition leaders – Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis – are scheduled to meet at 7.30pm to try and heal the rift over the closure of ERT. Both minority leaders in the coalition government have strongly opposed the prime minister's decision last week to shut down ERT to meet a troika demand for layoffs. 

- In Berlin, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble praised the accomplishments made by the coalition, adding that he had accepted an invitation to visit Athens, without a date being immediately set. "Slowly the shape of a stable economic future is taking shape," Schaeuble said

- Syriza is planning a protest rally in Syntagma Square at 8pm, which will be addressed by party leader Alexis Tsipras

- The Council of State, the country's supreme administrative court, is expected to consider a union motion challenging the legality of closing ERT's three terrestrial channels and extensive radio network

- The director general of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Ingrid Deltenre, has condemned the threat of legal action made by the Greek government against satellite operators that transmit the ERT signal over Europe and Asia. This follows reports that the government made diplomatic representations in Israel against a satellite company broadcasting ERT

- The Nerit (New Hellenic Radio Internet and Television) signal appeared for the first time on television screens on Monday morning, with channel searches showing coloured bands and the word ΝΕΡΙΤ (in Greek). The signal is being supported by the digital platform digea and is being broadcast on 52 UHF, possibly from Mt Ymittos, and on 48 UHF

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