TV licensing law amendments approved by MPs

TV licensing law amendments approved by MPs

Greek members of parliament voted late on Thursday night to approve amendments put forth by the government to a recent law governing television broadcasting licenses, known as the “Pappas Law” after State Minister Nikos Pappas who envisaged the licensing process.

Parliament approved an amendment to suspend – not abolish – a legal provision that had transferred the authority for conducting a TV license auction from the TV independent watchdog, known as ESR, to Pappas.

However, the amendment was rejected by the opposition parties whose consensus is necessary to appoint a new National Council for Radio and Television (ESR) board. A meeting has been called by Parliament President Nikos Voutsis on Monday who is trying to persuade opposition parties to approve a new ESR board.

In a tense debate in parliament, main opposition New Democracy vice president Adonis Georgiadis charged that the government is trying to trick the opposition into forming an ESR management controlled by Pappas that will then put the television broadcasting landscape under his thumb.

Syriza, coalition partner ANEL and the Democratic Coalition voted in favor of the amendment to suspend article 2A of the Pappas Law transferring licensing competences to the State Minister, while New Democracy, Golden Dawn and To Potami voted “No”. The Centrists’ Union and the Communist Party abstained.

On an amendment to include the ESR in the decision on the number of licenses that should be issued and their starting price in an auction, Syriza, ANEL, the Democratic Coalition and Potami voted “Yes”, while New Democracy, Golden Dawn and the Centrists’ Union voted “No”. The Communist Party voted “present”.

Nikos Pappas, said the government will insist on merely suspending article 2A of the so called Pappas Law instead of abolishing it entirely as demanded by main opposition New Democracy.

Pappas said that the amendment he tabled stipulates that the number of television licenses to be issued will be decided by the Minister of State. However, the approval of the National Council for Radio and Television (ESR) will also be required.

The minister also argued that the Council of State did not in any case abolish his law and that it will be enforced by the National Council for Radio and Television./ΙΒΝΑ