The Greek government’s plans for a new state-owned agency for selling television advertisements have been strongly opposed by broadcasters after it was unveiled, days after the new controversial auction to limit new private television licenses. A joint letter between the country’s private TV operators on Friday expressed concerns that the new law was being used to exert greater state control over the media. The government already imposes a 20 percent tax on advertising.
The creation of a monopoly to sell advertising on behalf of the country’s main commercial broadcasters was described by State Minister Nikos Pappas as a way to achieve greater transparency in the advertising industry so as to restrict tax evasion and protect vulnerable groups. The government however, would increase its own commission by 10 percent in a market worth 200 million euros per year.
Opposed to the changes are private broadcasters Antenna, MEGA TV, SKAI, Alpha and Channel E. They wrote a joint letter, signed also by the Hellenic Advertisers Association and the Hellenic Association of Advertising, where they describe the draft bill as “unjustified and unprecedented.”
The Financial Times article on the draft bill quotes one TV executive as stating: “We are shocked and mystified. How can the government attempt to strangle an industry that has already lost more than 50 percent of its revenue in recent years? This is not about transparency or improving the economics of the industry, this seems to be about control.”