TV licenses: CoS ruling blocks government plans

Wednesday’s initial ruling by the Council of State (CoS) to accept the appeals by media owners on the unconstitutionality of the recent TV licensing tender, organised by the Greek government, has thrown a wrench in the government’s plans to move forward with official issuing of the auctioned TV licences, while it also stops its plans to shut down TV stations without a license until the Court reaches a definitive conclusion on the matter. Opposition party officials said the ruling to uphold the appeals, acknowledging the validity of the media owners’ challenge and their vested interest in disputing the legality of the tender for the TV licenses, has put the government’s plans to introduce amendments regarding the shutting down of TV stations on halt, while they add that the government’s efforts to hurriedly form the new Greek National Council for Radio and Television (NCRTV) are rendered ineffective, as both the parties of New Democracy (ND) and “To Potami” have made it clear that they will not consent to the formation of the TV watchdog, as long as the final verdict on the matter by the CoS is pending. The next phase involves the CoS ruling on the actual substance of the case, namely whether the law introduced by the Minister of State, Nikos Pappas, which effectively transferred the power of issuing television licences from the constitutionally established NCRTV to the state, is constitutional. According to legal circles, Tuesday’s ruling is highly unlikely to be overturned, meaning the current law would be ruled unconstitutional. The development is expected to lead to a head-on collision between the government and the opposition parties, who will meet in parliament to discuss the matter over the next two days. Meanwhile, the Presidents’ Council (a parliamentary body made up by the President, the parties’ parliamentary spokespersons and the heads of committees) is scheduled to meet at 2pm on Wednesday to discuss and approve the composition of the new NCRTV, something highly unlikely, given the fact that the necessary majority of four fifths cannot be achieved after the clear position by New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis that his party would not provide its consent before the current TV licensing law is withdrawn. The head of To Potami party, Stavros Theodorakis has also said he would not agree until the CoS has delivered its final verdict.

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