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Greece PM in fresh bid to break deadlock over broadcaster

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will on Wednesday make a last-ditch effort in talks with coalition allies to avert a crisis over his controversial shutdown of the state broadcaster which threatens to bring down his government.

State-run television channels remained dead on Wednesday two days after Greece's top court told government to put broadcaster ERT back on air.

Samaras was due to again meet leaders of the socialist and moderate leftist parties after talks Monday failed to break a deadlock over the fate of ERT, whose shock closure eight days ago with the loss of 2,700 jobs sparked uproar nationwide.

Coalition partners demand the immediate restoration of broadcasts.

Liberal Kathimerini daily spoke of a "final effort to break the deadlock" while centre-left Ethnos said the coalition allies were "playing with fire" as failure to break the impasse could lead to early elections, the third in a year.

"No sane person can recommend elections when the country is still waging a fight for its survival," Ethnos said.

Greece is under pressure by its EU-IMF lenders to meet the terms of a massive 240 billion euro (321 billion dollar) bailout.

One of the requirements was the axing of 4,000 civil servant posts by the end of this year.

The June 11 shutdown took ERT's five TV channels and 24 radio stations off the air, but also blocked Greece's parliament channel and the local digital signal of the BBC, TV5 and Deutsche Welle.

According to the state-run Athens News Agency, the government is working on a plan to get some news broadcasts back on air temporarily.

The plan, to be presented at Wednesday's meeting, involves hiring some 30 journalists to put together three news bulletins a day for two months, until the new public broadcaster is fleshed out, ANA said.

Samaras has refused to reinstate ERT under its previous format, claiming that the company cost 300 million euros ($400 million) a year for an overall viewer rating of four percent, less than half of its private competitors.

The government has also offered to compensate ERT's employees, and to create a new broadcaster with less than half the workforce.

ERT was widely seen in Greece as a government mouthpiece and a haven of chronic mismanagement.

But it also offered educational content unavailable on private television, and an invaluable link to the homeland for the country's large diaspora.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130619/greece-pm-fresh-bid-break-deadlock-over-broadcaster