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Greece shuts state broadcaster as part of austerity drive

  • Greece is to shut down the radio and television services of its state broadcaster ERT in a bid to cut government spending.

    According to a government spokesman, transmissions will have ceased by this morning.

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

    All 2,500 employees will be suspended until the broadcaster reopens "as soon as possible,” he added.

    ERT is funded by a payment of $6, which is added to electricity bills every month.

    The broadcaster airs three domestic television channels, four national radio stations and regional radio stations along with an external service, Voice of Greece.

    The move comes in a bid to lower spending as the government tries to steer the country out of recession and meet conditions of a bailout agreed upon with international lenders.

    In 2010, the European Union and the International Monetery Fund pledged more than $265 billion worth of loans for Greece, the first euro zone country to be hit by the debt crisis.