TV licensing an issue of national competence, European Commission says

TV licensing an issue of national competence, European Commission says

Athens, September 27, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Zacharias Petrou

A spokesman for the European Commission clarified while speaking to reporters in Brussels on Tuesday that the licensing of television stations in Greece is an area of national competence.

Spokesman Margaritis Schinas was asked to comment on statements made Monday by EU Digital Economy and Society Commissioner Gunther Oettinger who said that the Commission could move against Greece if it found that the government was interfering in the freedom of the media.

Schinas reiterated the position of the European Commission that there are two different processes; one regarding television broadcasting licenses and a second regarding the independent telecom authority.

On the first issue, the spokesman clarified that it is up to the member-states to choose the process through which licenses may be issued according to national standards. Schinas added that “even when it comes to areas of national competence, principles contained in the Treaties continue to apply, including the freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services”.

The spokesman noted, however, that the Commission is in close contact with Greek authorities regarding the autonomy of the regulator and issues related to it, which are ongoing.

Opposition parties in Greece – especially conservative New Democracy – have been relentless in their criticism ahead of the Council of State ruling on the constitutionality of the licensing tender. According to observers, the aim of the opposition it to apply as much pressure as possible for the cancellation of the entire process that would deal a huge blow to Syriza.

“It seems that New Democracy continues to operate as the press office of the old interests that kept Greece behind,” Syriza parliamentary spokesman Socratis Famelos said on Tuesday.