ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece said it was temporarily closing state broadcaster ERT on Tuesday to lay off staff and slim down the organization as part of budget cuts, drawing protests from workers and junior partners in the ruling coalition.
The announcement was one of the most drastic measures yet to pare down the country's public institutions as part of austerity measures imposed on Greece as a condition of its bailout.
"At a time when the Greek people are enduring sacrifices, there is no room for delay, hesitation or tolerance for sacred cows," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said in a televised statement aired on the state broadcaster.
Large crowds of ERT employees gathered outside its Athens headquarters after the announcement, vowing to fight the decision and calling for a general media blackout in protest.
ERT's three channels and radio services would go off air after midnight and be relaunched at a later date as a leaner organization, Kedikoglou said.
(Reporting by Harry Papachristou and Renee Maltezou; Editing by Andrew Heavens)