Oettinger: The number of television licenses is up to the Greek authorities

Oettinger: The number of television licenses is up to the Greek authorities

Athens, September 27, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

The number of licenses that will be given to broadcasters is a matter for the Greek authorities, underlined the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society issues Günther H. Oettinger, according to Deutsche Welle.

The commissioner briefed reporters on the recent proposals of the European Commission on digitization in the media on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the printed German Press and was asked whether the restriction of permits in Greece in four channels is a threat to freedom of Press.

“The question whether the licenses will be for 4, 5, 6 or 10 for public and private television stations are, basically, (per se), a case of national states and the free decision-making process of the parliaments”, Mr Oettinger replied.

G. Oettinger said he has been the recipient of messages on the situation in Greek television landscape, and of a possible intervention of the Greek government in the media.

The commission “intervenes” however, if there is an impression that the procedure for issuing licenses “undermines the diversity of views and freedom of the press”, he said and added that at this time he receives from Greece “warnings” that the government wants to “subdue” the press and television owners.

If the commission has “evidence then possibly we could move against it on the basis of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU”.

According to Mr Oettinger, the whole matter is under examination. Without naming them, the European Commissioner said that on the matter he works with two Greek MEPs.

Referral of Greece to the WEU?

Of course it is not the first time that a German commissioner expresses concern about the arrangements for the television market in Greece, but now he extends his criticism by speaking about a possible threat to the freedom of Press in the country.

In June Mr Oettinger had sent a letter to the Greek Government on the issue of the “range out” of television frequencies that had been given to DIGEA network provider, along with questions concerning the independence of the National Telecommunications and Post Commission.

He then called on the government to give direct answers. Otherwise the country could have been be referred to the European Court of Justice and fined.

On Friday, the European Commission expressed its discomfort because satisfactory answers have not yet been given and that the withdrawal of the spectrum and the independence of the regulatory authorities are not the only issues being considered for the Greek television landscape.

It was stated that the Commissioner’s letter is the first stage for the referral of Greece for a breach of Community law. The next step before the referral is the sending of the document a “reasoned opinion”.