Private television channels fight license law
Council of State examines legality of new legislation slashing stations to four
The Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, heard arguments yesterday from lawyers representing TV stations that oppose legislative changes to Greece’s telecom sector which will slash the number of private channels to four. New broadcasting licenses will be awarded in a tender in August and the current TV station owners want it canceled or changed.
Lawyers representing the private channels say that the current digital platform allows for at least 16 broadcast channels, and have lambasted the new legislation as an affront to “pluralism and objectivity.”
Media operators argue that the legislation violates the Constitution and EU law, while the EU has also expressed concern via a letter of formal notice sent to Greece by European Digital Commissioner Gunther Oettinger in mid-June.
The leftist-led government’s purge of private TV stations is part of its pledge to rid the media of what it says is the influence of big financial interests and politicians. However, critics link the move to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s loathing of TV barons and his bid to replace them with stations that will be more sympathetic to his coalition. The Council of State is expected to rule on the legality of the changes by the end of July.