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Greece shuts down state broadcaster to meet bailout requirements

Press TV

Greek government has shut down the country’s state TV and radio in an unexpected move as the debt-stricken country seeks to meet its debt bailout requirements.

State TV and radio signals were abruptly cut early Wednesday, after the government closed the Hellenic Broadcasting Corp., or ERT, and sacked its workers.

“ERT is a case of an exceptional lack of transparency and incredible extravagance. This ends now,” government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said at a news conference on Tuesday.

However, ERT journalists refused to leave the broadcaster’s headquarters and continued their programs live on the Internet into Wednesday.

Thousands of people gathered outside ERT headquarters in the capital, Athens, in protest at the government’s decision to shut down the media outlet.

Nearly 2,500 workers of the broadcaster will be sacked after receiving compensation.

Meanwhile, journalist unions called for 24-hour strike, stopping private television news programs, while the government’s center-left coalition partners asked for the ERT closure to be reversed.

Greek parliament should ratify the executive order to close ERT within three months. However, the order cannot be approved without support from the minority coalition lawmakers.

Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the main opposition party, SYRIZA, has condemned the shutdown as “illegal” in an interview on ERT online broadcast.

“Many times the word ‘coup’ is used as an exaggeration. In this case, it is not an exaggeration,” he said.

He added that during his meeting with the country’s President Karolos Papoulias later on Wednesday he would ask him to discard an executive order he signed permitting the government to close ERT.

ERT began broadcasting in 1938, running three domestic TV channels, four national radio stations, as well as regional radio stations and an external service, Voice of Greece.

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