He said despite the broadcasters' foibles and cost, ERT produced high quality programming that stands in stark contrast to the foreign-produced soap operas inundating private TV channels in Greece today.
Moreover, Greeks trusted ERT to provide balanced, objective news reports because its journalists weren't under the kind of commercial advertising pressures faced by private news outlets.
"Who will be left to speak the truth when the state broadcasters are gone?" asked Dimitris Trimis, head of the Athens journalists' union. "Private broadcasters are bankrupt and have slashed their workforces, and in order to survive they are clinging ever closer to business and political interests."
Yiallourides, the professor, warned that the government's surprise decision could reignite social unrest.
The government has defended the move, insisting a new more efficient and less costly public broadcaster would be launched before the end of the summer. Still, it faces a political battle: the executive order to close ERT must be ratified by parliament within three months but faces failure if it is not backed by all the coalition's members.
ERT employee Kaity Potha, 55, said the government was blaming the broadcaster's staff for its own incompetence, which included giving high-paid jobs at the broadcaster for political patronage.
"Our salaries have been cut 45 percent in the past three years," she said. "Every clown who governed Greece in recent decades dumped us not only with their own governing board but also with 200-300 new staff — their salaries have not been cut."
Hadjicostis reported from Nicosia, Cyprus. Nicholas Paphitis contributed from Athens.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.