Amendment against ERT closure rejected, court to convene later Thursday

Deputies from SYRIZA, the Communist Party (KKE) and Independent Greeks left the Parliament on Thursday in protest at the government’s decision not to discuss an amendment on the closure of state broadcaster ERT.

The amendment, submitted by KKE, aimed at overturning the legislative act that shut down the organization earlier this month.

Alternate Environment Minister Stavros Kalafatis said that the amendment cannot be accepted because it would entail an extra burden on the state budget – which would be in violation of the Greek Constitution.

Opposition lawmakers left the House amid allegations that the government is evading the issue.

Meanwhile, the Council of State, which ruled on Monday that the government had the right to shut down ERT but not to cut the broadcaster’s signal, is to convene later Thursday in the wake of varying interpretations of its decision by politicians as well as legal experts.

At the behest of the court’s president, Constantinos Menoudakos, the court’s 5-member “suspensions committee” is scheduled to convene at 6 p.m. to reassess the closure of ERT. The court is not expected to issue its decision until Friday at the earliest.

ERT employees – who have defied management orders to leave the studio since ERT was taken off air, instead broadcasting a bootleg version over the Internet – have scheduled a protest rally outside the court at 5 p.m.

At 8.30 p.m. Greece coalition leaders will meet for the third attempt in less than a week to resolve their differences over ERT after a three-and-a-half-hour meeting Wednesday failed to yield a compromise.

In a related development, the government on Thursday decided to temporarily suspend a license fee for public radio and television, which is raised via electricity bills, until a new public broadcaster has been set up.