EU Commission sees Greece’s new media law ‘in positive light

27 January 2016
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The European Commission seems to view Greece’s new media law “in a positive light,” according to a news report by the European news agency Euractiv on Tuesday. The article explores the controversy surrounding the new law on granting television channel licences in Greece, where the opposition parties view the government’s moves with suspicion.

The news agency cited an EU spokesperson, who explained that it was up to the member states to set up the procedures for the granting of content licenses for television channels as this has not been harmonized at EU level.

Referring to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the EU official said that the Greek government was committed to launching an international tender for the acquisition of television licenses, and use related fees of relevant frequencies as one potential measure to be presented by the Greek authorities to help meet its agreed fiscal targets.

“The reference is thus related to its fiscal impact. As with all MoU commitments, these would need to be agreed with the institutions and also need to fully compatible with EU law. As no proposal has been made by the Greek authorities in this respect, there have thus been no discussions with the institutions.”

The EU spokesman also stressed that this had to be differentiated from exchanges that the Commission has on the implementation of the EU Telecoms rules in Greece in autumn. “These exchanges were not related to TV licenses”.

In autumn, the Commission confirmed to be in contact with the Greek authorities on issues related to the independence of national telecoms regulatory authorities and digital terrestrial transmissions (assignment of frequencies).

The report notes the erosion of press freedom in Greece since the start of the crisis, dropping from 31st in 173 countries in the World Press Freedom Index in 2008 to 91st out of 180 countries on a global level in 2015, quoting Minister of State Nikos Pappas that the government is determined to impose order on the broadcasting landscape.

“Greece is the only EU country that has never launched any licensing process for private TV channels for 25 years, maintaining the lawless regime of temporary licenses,”, he told EurActiv.

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