Greece: TV screens still blank amid dispute

A man holds a child, in front of the ERT3 building during a protest . Exactly one year ago, Greece’s conservative prime minister won the mandate to form a coalition government with a daunting brief: Restart punishing reforms, keep the debt-stifled country in the eurozone and end months of political chaos. The latter has proved harder, and Antonis Samaras is now making a last-ditch bid to quell a revolt by key allies over his decision to close the country’s state TV and radio broadcaster ERT, axing nearly 2,700 jobs to meet austerity targets. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- State TV channels in Greece remained off-air Tuesday as the political storm over the future of public broadcaster ERT rages on.

Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras averted the threat of a snap general election late Monday at a meeting with center-left coalition partners who strongly oppose his June 11 decision to close ERT and fire all its staff of nearly 2,700.

Also late Monday night, Greece's high court ruled that while the government was entitled to replace ERT with a more efficient broadcaster, it should not have shut off the public TV signal.

Samaras and his partners agreed to continue negotiations and will meet again Wednesday to discuss the transition to a new state broadcaster.

The prime minister is under pressure from Greece's international bailout lenders who seeking faster spending cuts as a condition for continued payouts from their 240 billion euro ($320 billion) rescue program.

Samaras is due to meet Tuesday with bailout inspectors from the "troika" of the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Shares on the Athens Stock Exchange were up nearly 3 percent Tuesday, as markets in Europe were mixed.