A Greek court ruled that shuttered state broadcaster ERT must reopen immediately, a court official said on Monday, offering the squabbling ruling coalition a way out of a political crisis over the station's abrupt closure.
The ruling - which ordered ERT switched back on until a restructured public broadcaster is launched - came six day after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras took it off air in the name of austerity and public sector layoffs to please foreign lenders.
The ruling appeared to vindicate Samaras's stance that a leaner, cheaper public broadcaster must be set up but also allowed for ERT's immediate reopening as his coalition partners had demanded, offering all three a way out of an impasse that had raised the specter of snap polls.
"It appears that the interim decision of the top administrative court gives the three leaders an opportunity to find a face-saving formula," said Theodore Couloumbis of the ELIAMEP think-tank.
A live feed of ERT - whose journalists have continued broadcasting over the Internet in defiance of orders - showed workers breaking into applause on hearing the court ruling. ERT's Symphony Orchestra began an outdoor concert outside its headquarters, playing an old news jingle to cheering supporters.
"I've been here seven nights and this is the first time I've seen people smile," said Eleni Hrona, an ERT reporter outside the headquarters.
Earlier, Samaras had offered to reopen a pared-down version of the state broadcaster under temporary management, reshuffle the cabinet and update the coalition's agreement to improve cooperation between the parties, a government official said.
"It's a last-ditch move by the prime minister to reach a compromise and avoid elections," the official said.
The transitional broadcaster would then pave the way for the smaller, cheaper public broadcaster that Samaras initially had promised would replace ERT.
Exactly a year after a parliamentary election brought Samaras and his two leftist allies to power, the parties have fed fears of a hugely disruptive snap poll by refusing to compromise over an entity widely unloved until its shock overnight closure.
"It's clear that over the last days any semblance of logic in dealing with this issue has been lost," said Costas Panagopoulos, head of ALCO pollsters.
"The most absurd thing is that we are talking about a possible destruction of the country over ERT."