Greece announces shortlist in controversial TV shakeup

11 August 2016
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Greece on Thursday announced a shortlist of nine private TV channels in a controversial state licensing tender that has seen the leftist government accused of political bias.

The list does not include the country’s formerly top station Mega, which has a long-running feud with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Private Greek TV stations have been operating under provisional licences, in some cases for over two decades.

Pointing to dwindling advertising revenue in crisis-hit Greece, the government has decided to grant just four 10-year licences, with opening bids starting at three million euros ($3.3 million).

The bidding process is expected to take place later this month.

Authorities say they want to clean up an industry known for workforce exploitation and rumoured under-the-table deals between media moguls, bankers and influential politicians, while bringing an end to 25 years of chaotic licensing.

The government insists only “financially sustainable” channels should be allowed to broadcast, with several struggling stations reportedly owing large sums to both banks and state coffers.

But critics say the overhaul is merely a ploy by Tsipras to replace powerful TV barons – who have opposed his leftist Syriza party in the past – with others more to his liking.

In its coverage, Mega has strongly criticised Tsipras’ anti-austerity rhetoric which nearly saw Greece pushed out of the euro last year.

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