Athens, August 18, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Zacharias Petrou
The nationwide television broadcasting licenses tender is set to enter the final straight at the end of the week.
A total of nine companies will compete for four licenses: existing stations SKAI, ANT1, Star, Epsilon, Alpha and the companies owned by V. Marinakis, Ch. Kalogritsas, I. Savvidis and the Cypriot consortium.
Government sources said that the electronic auction process with which the competition will be completed will be ready by Friday, allowing time for candidates to be informed about the specifics on the 30th or 31st of August.
However, representatives of many of the companies that will take part in the bidding process express reservations about the system chosen by the government and stress that all its details must be revealed, which requires a longer period of time.
According to the same sources, the competition will need to be delayed significantly and in no case will it be over by early September, as the government desires.
SKAI Television in particular has publicly voiced specific concerns – via two separate relative announcements.
The government had initially said it will award the electronic auction to the Hellenic Communications and Post Commission since an earlier competition to find an IT provider failed to attract any bids. However, it was later announced that Singular Logic will provide the computing system that will be used in the TV licenses auction. SKAI revealed that the Greek Software Vendor will collaborate with Eurobank Business Exchanges to create the software used for the TV licenses auction.
According to the representatives of the existing nationwide television stations, at least one to three months are required to develop software for the e-auction. The claim is denied by the General Secretariat for News and Communication which argues much less time is necessary.
“Due to the haste with which the government is trying to carry out the competition, these is a risk that the system could break down, leading to the auction being carried out manually. This is contrary to the rules of the competition and practically impossible” say representatives of the Association of National Television Broadcasters.
The legal advisors of some of the parties set to take part in the tender have raised a series of questions to which the government has yet to respond:
- How long will the bidding process last? Initial information suggested it could take as long as 48 hours which would be exhausting for those taking part.
- What procedure was used to select Singular Logic and how was subcontractor Eurobank Business Exchanges chosen?
- What are the final technical specifications on which the project was awarded to Singular Logic? Have these changed since the competition was first announced 28 June?
- In what way will the government ensure that the procedure with which the auction will be carried out is transparent and credible?
According to information, some of the participants in the tender vying for a TV license will request that an internationally renowned company with experience in e-auctions is selected to support the procedure. They will also request that parliamentary political parties monitor the entire process.
It is noted that a final ruling is expected in October by the Council of State on the entire legal framework put in place by the government on the issue of television licenses and the relevant ministerial decisions.