No ruling on TV licenses; judges to reconvene on Wednesday

25 October 2016
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A meeting of top administrative judges on whether a recent government auction of TV licenses is in line with the Greek Constitution ended without a decision on Monday night, with the Council of State expected to reconvene on Wednesday.

Judges met for over three hours at the Council’s central Athens headquarters to hear representatives of six television stations that have challenged the auction, as well as the position of the government, without, however, being able to reach a breakthrough on an issue that has evolved into a significant political controversy.

Sources close to the talks said that the discussion was especially fraught, as judges have taken issue with recent media publications casting aspersions over one of the Council’s high-ranking officials and a decision by the Justice Ministry to launch a probe into the allegations regarding the court vice-president’s personal life.

Dominating Monday’s talks was the question of whether the government had the right to put the auction of broadcasting licenses into the hands of State Minister Nikos Pappas rather than the National Broadcasting Council (ESR), which is currently disbanded.
If the Council of State rules that the ESR is the only authority with jurisdiction over broadcasting licenses, then new regulations will have to be drawn up and September’s tender may be nullified, becoming a serious source of embarrassment to the leftist-led government. If, however, judges rule in favor of the government, the stations that did not secure one of the four licenses that went under the hammer will be forced to shut down once Pappas issues the relevant decision.

Meanwhile, a meeting of Parliament’s Institutions and Transparency Committee scheduled for Tuesday to discuss the same issue has been cancelled.
The decision to call off the debate was announced on Monday night by committee head Anastasia Christodoulopoulou, though she did not discuss the reasons of the cancellation.

Opposition sources have suggested that the committee has decided to wait for the Council of State’s decision on the matter before bringing it to lawmakers.

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