Impasse remains on TV law

Government plans to introduce interim law

Talks in Greek parliament over the government’s amendments on the TV law, Thursday night, led to the passing of two changes in the current legislation, although agreement on the key issue of the number of TV licenses to be granted has not yet been resolved. During Thursday’s session the majority agreed on the suspension of article 2A of the Pappas Law, which set the number of TV at 4 and provided the tender was held by the state, instead of the National Council of Radio and Television (NCRTV).

The new amendment foresees that the starting bid for the TV license tenders and the number of licenses to be granted will require the consent of the NCRTV, besides the Minister’s decision, which was the case under the current law.

Major opposition party New Democracy opposed all amendments, arguing the current law should be scrapped completely. The amendments were backed in full by the Democratic Alignment party, while To Potami (River) party supported the portion of the amendment that returned some responsibilities to the NCRTV.

After 14 months of the government’s attempts to rearrange the media landscape, it has only caused more confusion and chaos, with the TV license tender being repealed; its law being ruled unconstitutional; the formation of the new NCRTV still pending; while TV stations on air still have no temporary licenses. Even though the changes went through parliament, the true intentions of the government remain unclear. While it seems to have backed down from its initial stance of retaining full control of the TV operation by granting some responsibilities to the media watchdog, it still insists that the number of licenses should be 4.

Meanwhile, the balance of power in the Parliament’s Council of President’s Committee, which is the cross-party body responsible for the formation of the new NCRTV and is due to convene next Monday, leaves little hope of overcoming the impasse, given the fact that the Communist party (KKE) has made it clear that it would take a neutral stance in the proceedings. This means that as long as New Democracy does not offer its consent in the body the necessary majority cannot be achieved, thus extending the current gridlock and the formation of the independent media watchdog.

In light of the current situation the prospect of the government introducing a interim TV law has re-emerged, until the official ruling of the supreme administrative court is published.