Political reality show with Television licenses

The other day the Greek Parliament debated the amendment of State minister Nikos Pappas for more than ten hours, to pass to the Grand Chamber the powers of the procedure and the number of licenses for television stations that would be granted to private companies by the Greek State. “Discussing”, is used euphemistically, because what was heard was a little (?) heavy to say the least, even for the Parliament of the last 5 years of memoranda.

I do not recall ten hours of such acute conflict even when wages and pensions were cut, or when they were passing mediums and legislative acts in a heartbeat. Nor when acts and omissions by any bank administrations and public bodies were decriminalized (always via amendments ). Or when “irresponsibility” was offered  to political parties heavily in debt, for incapable party loans serviced.

And, of course, I do not remember such “passion” from MP’s for all those measures -on previous governments but also on current- that impoverished an entire nation plunged the economy into recession.

What is it that excites the reflexes of everyone, when it should be a problem that ought to be common ground of all parties, pro and against the memoranda?

Let us try to interpret this “phenomenon.”

The Tsipras government passed a law to restore legality -as it claims- in the broadcasting landscape. Substance is its intention to launch competitive tendering and provide legal licenses to broadcasters and stop the opacity status of the last 25 years, by which some run businesses making use of a public asset / property (television and radio frequencies) without paying appropriate fees to the state coffers.

Everything, that is, that those who operate in telecommunications, and even gambling (eg casinos) do so legally.

This fundamental right -and obligation I would add- of the state, nobody seems to challenge directly.

Instead of there being a basic understanding and expression of the State’s willingness to receive what its share of the grant portion of public property is, (imagine, for example, the German Fraport to occupy regional airports and to gain from their use without paying a single penny, or Cosco to have done the same at the Piraeus port), we observe a furious war with the “accused” being  not the substance but the number of TV licenses that can be granted to individuals.

Government and opposition come to this clash from different positions. The minister insists that they should  grant a maximum of four general licenses (basically informational channels such as Mega or Sky) and an unknown number of thematic content channels (sports, entertainment, etc.), The ND, PASOK, the Center Union Party and the River,(all political party names) denounce him as a “dictator”, and the Parliament as a ‘junta’, recommending an unlimited number of channels. They note that the digital spectrum does not set limits and, finally, “let the free market dictate who can and who will survive.”

Therefore, the impression that the conflict is a (undoubtedly important) technical dimension of the “accused”, without, however, presenting studies or technical viability.

They understand, of course, that the real issue is something else. And it is obvious that some argue bearing in mind the interests of certain third parties.

This suitcase, however, can not travel far. Particularly, since the European Commission opined that the issue is “national”.

First because legality must be restored (that could not be restored despite the efforts of the Karamanlis government, for obvious political and business reasons) and because it can not define the political developments, or the “hostage” entrepreneurs in precarious statuses or other requirements to extend the un-accountability situation.

Steps need to be taken on both sides. If the issue is a technical one, let the two sides submit the studies that are known to exist in the drawers, to the Parliament . Let Mr. Pappas support why he considers that there should be four general licenses, and let the others explain why there should be “infinite” channels.

In Berlusconi’s Italy, for example, the second applies. In the rest of Europe 4-6  general channels and a large number of thematic channels are broadcasting.

But let us finish. And then let them leave the (consensual) ESR (Greek Broadcasting Committee)  to “run” the competition.

Because this pending issue, is about to undermine political developments in an irreversible way. And undermine, in conclusion, the need for (relative) political stability.

Why, do some already chant that the case could even lead to elections. Do we need them?

Greek Article: Rizopoulospost


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