Bakoyannis says TV license auction unconstitutional

New Democracy heavyweight Dora Bakoyannis on Monday slammed a government auction of four private nationwide TV licenses as an unconstitutional effort by Greece’s left-led government to deflect public attention from economic failures.

“[The government]… is trying to direct public attention away from pension cuts and tax hikes,” the conservative MP told Alpha radio.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said that the 246 million euros raised from the auction will be used for social policy. The pledge is expected to be a central theme of his keynote speech at the upcoming Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).

In the same interview, Bakoyannis said that the process adopted by the government was in violation of the Greek constitution which says that broadcast permits must be granted by the National Council for Radio and Television (ESR), an independent media watchdog.

“When [the constitution] says that the licenses must be granted by ESR yet these are instead granted by [State Minister Nikos] Pappas, it’s a clear violation of the constitution,” Bakoyannis said.

The country’s constitutional court is expected to rule on the case this fall.
Just two of the country’s seven private TV stations survived a grueling three-day auction launched by the government, which has drastically changed the country’s broadcasting landscape.

Existing channels Skai and Antenna were awarded two of the four licenses up for grabs, while the remaining two went to new groups – one linked to shipping magnate Vangelis Marinakis, who owns Greek soccer club Olympiakos, and the other to a construction group owned by Yiannis Kalogritsas.

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