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Council of State rules ERT closure constitutional

It's been eight months since the sudden and shocking decision by the prime minister to shut down public broadcaster (ERT) and the controversy is still alive and well. On Wednesday, the Council of State delivered its positive ruling on the constitutionality of the closure.

The ruling came after litigation by the former ERT employees, asking for the court to rule the shutdown unconstitutional and contrary to European law. Their move backfired, though, according to information from the proceedings, the majority decision taken was really close.

Prime minister Antonis Samaras made the shocking decision last June, amidst widespread unrest and months long demonstrations in front of ERT offices in Agia Paraskevi. His reasoning was that this was the only way for the overspending of public funds to stop.

Since then, a new, transitional Public TV channel has been transmitting minimally, in anticipation of the brand new public media carrier, called NERIT, which should be ready by late spring, or early summer. All this time, sponsoring obligations and other loose ends of the old ERT have been haunting state officials.

The ruling has yet to be officially posted, but it looks like the judges ruled that, since there was an interim public carrier in a short time since the ERT shutdown, there is no question of illegality. Furthermore, judges ruled that Article 15 of the Greek constitution which mentions TV and radio guidelines, does not impose an obligation on the State for establishing state television.