Greek Gov’t in Dispute with TV Channel Owners Over Licensing



adeies-708_0_0State Minister Nikos Pappas is in dispute with television channel owners over the new licensing procedures the Greek government is trying to pass.

The Greek government has taken away the authority of the independent National Radio and Television Council and the state minister has called an auction for only four television station licenses. The deadline for filing the applications is today (Monday).

The owners of the existing television stations have appealed to the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court, objecting to the legality of the process. ANT1, Star, ALPHA, SKAI, “E” and the new ALTER EGO company, owned by Evangelos Marinakis, have filed applications so far.

At the same time, the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Gunther Oettinger, has raised a number of objections to the way Pappas and Minister of Transport and Communications Christos Spirtzis are handling the issue of the broadcasting landscape.

A report by the European Commissioner sent to the Greek government questions the ousting of the National Radio and Television Council. Also, the report criticizes the partial use of the digital television spectrum, clearly implying that there should be more licenses than four.

After the report was made public, the Association of Television Stations Owners and all opposition parties argued that the procedures Pappas is trying to pass are irregular and unconstitutional.

The owners association in a statement accused the government for withholding the European Commission report that was sent on June 16 and was made public only this weekend, right before the expiration of the deadline. It is also stated the report warns the Greek government and the ministers responsible that the procedures they are trying to apply go against EU laws and regulations. Also, in the report it is stated that the dismantling of the independent counsil for radio and television is against EU law and Greece is in danger of being penalized for that.

The state minister refuted the objections. In a statement he issued he claims that the Commission report does not pertain to the licensing issue. He also stated that all the deliberate noise the opposition parties and the TV station owners are making aims at misinforming and influencing the Council of State that will decide on the cancellation of the process today.

So far, the six applications for licensing have been filed by:

1. Antenna television station owned by the Kyriakou family.

2. STAR CHANNEL, owned by the Vardinogiannis family.

3. ALPHA channel owned by entrepreneur Dimitris Kontominas.

4. SKAI TV owned by entrepreneur Yiannis Alafouzos.

5. Alter Ego, a new company owned by Evangelos Marinakis.

6. EPSILON channel, owned by entrepreneur Filippos Vryonis.