Athens, February 10, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
The government decided that the nationwide television licenses will be four, according to what the House Speaker Nikos Voutsis said at the Conference of Presidents, in which for the third and last time was discussed the issue of the definition of the new ESR, something that was made possible. As such, as he announced, the tabling of the relevant legislation is imminent.
“It is clear that the House by the plenary, if the road has opened, will deal with the continuity and completion of this process, something which might take place very soon”, Voutsis said, blaming the stalemate on those who do not want, he said, the licensing process to proceed. “There were extreme views by some sides and obviously from some there was the will not to allow the tender to take place, to have other developments in the country that would prevent the start of the tender process”, Voutsis argued.
Regarding the number of licenses, the Speaker effectively prejudged that they would be four: “The licenses for the digital signal broadcasting of nationwide high-resolution range will be up to four”, he noted, citing a report of the University Institute of Florence, to which the State Minister Nikos Pappas assigned the relevant study. Voutsis referred to high definition channels that can broadcast in the new digital era and said:
“For our country beyond the complaints relating to sustainability, nationwide HD licenses will be up to four”.
He even said that the same number exists in other European countries and was determined based on similar studies.
The “Preparatory experts’ report for the auctioning of digital terrestrial television licenses in Greece: number of licenses and starting price” as is the title of the report, states inter alia, that “if we consider that all licenses will be issued for one slot associated with a single nationwide channel, then the number of licenses that can currently be auctioned by the Greek authorities can not exceed four”.
However, it states that “this should not exclude the possibility that in the future, when new technologies will allow each multiplexer to transfer more than 2 HD channels, more licenses could be issued”.
It is also stressed that “in any case, we strongly recommend that, prior to conducting the auction, the formation of a new frequency map which, in order to anticipate future developments, should ensure the optimal use of resources and the healthy development of the television market” . Regarding the auction starting price, it is proposed on the basis of an international comparative analysis, “to range between EUR 500,000 and EUR 3.5 mln”, while it is recommended to the government “to consider the possibility for the auction to start from a conservative price that would vary between 500,000 and EUR 2 mln”.
Opposition parties, for their part, insisted that responsible for the tender, and thus on the number of licenses, should be the ESR (it is recalled that with a legislation that the government passed regarding the number of licenses, it will be decide by the respective majority of the House of Parliament).
The parliamentary spokesman of New Democracy N. Dendias asked for time, for his party to study the report, while on behalf of the Democratic coalition, An. Loverdos spoke of a “suspicious report”, as it coincides with the statements by Mr. Pappas, who has announced that there would be four licenses and reiterated his position for exclusive competence of the ESR.
Ch. Theocharis from The River stressed that “if the conditions for the granting of license are only technical, then they should be examined by the ESR.” “There is no reason for the minister and the government to decide”, he said. Commenting on the views of the parties, Voutsis noted that under the economic conditions it is impossible for existing television channels to stand on their feet and to meet the requirements of the new digital era.