State Minister Nikos Pappas had a series of meetings with the owners of the four companies provisionally awarded television broadcasting licenses in last week’s tender. The meetings began with ship owner Vangelis Marinakis, followed by one with construction firm owner Christos Kalogritsas, ANT1 television chief Thodoris Kyriakou and the owner of SKAI Group, Yiannis Alafouzos.
Pappas congratulated the men for their success in the tender and noted that their audits were pending. He stressed the channels’ obligations for objective journalism and the protection of minors and the public at large as well as respect for the common good when presenting TV content. Furthermore, he reminded the men of their obligations to hire at least 400 people per channel, and to present the public with a variety of content (news, arts and letters, current affairs, entertainment, Greek and foreign series, children’s shows, documentary and sports content). He also clarified technological necessities in regard to high definition equipment and 2,500 sq. meters of floor space. Should these conditions not be adhered to, then the TV licenses can be revoked at any time during the 10-year period.
Objections by TV license owners
The representatives of the TV license owners stated objections and addressed concerns that need to be answered before they make the 30-percent down-payment agreed in the bidding process. Meeting with the General Secretary of Media and Communication, Lefteris Kretsos, and the government’s legal advisors the new owners of the TV licenses expressed reservations regarding how the Greek state could guarantee their viability.
Kalogritsas called for a 20-day delay in the licenses in order to ensure that the decision regarding the legality of the tender process is sanctioned in Greek Parliament, bearing in mind plans to raise issues concerning the constitutionality of the bidding process.
The decision concerning the legality of the process is expected on September 16, however, the four license owners will need to have made a downpayment for 30 percent the amount by September 15.
Another objection put forth by representatives of the channels concerned the way in which the new legislation for advertising will work, bearing in mind that the additional operational costs are at 10 percent of the total turnover.
The four companies also wanted clarifications regarding whether more licenses will be offered and conditions for these.
What about the losers?
Stations that missed out on the TV licenses will go off the air in 90 days, even though the final decision that could overturn the process could wind up at the Council of State.
Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Christos Spirtzis said that no jobs would be lost as employees of the networks that failed to secure a license would be absorbed by the two newcomers that were successful in the bidding process as well as stations that would continue to broadcast as these are expected to expand and encompass more employees, according to Spirtzis.