Readers with their finger on the pulse of the nation are aware of the vast confusion surrounding the auction of licenses to broadcast TV signals over the digital and analogue public airways.
As I understand the history of the situation, Greece’s creditors were demanding that the government collect taxes from private broadcasters who, because of the natural chumminess between politicians and the media, had not been taxed or had avoiding paying taxes for a long time. While some companies thrived under this arrangement, others were so poorly managed that they were bankrupt or near bankruptcy.
After 27 years of unregulated private television, the government moved to limit the amount of licenses issued to national broadcasters to four. Public TV ERT, to whom we all contribute via our electricity bills, would keep its license and stay out of the fray. The other licenses were bid upon by media hopefuls in an auction which concluded last Friday.
From the beginning the government’s plan has had legal challenges brought against it. These suits are on-going(link).
Of the existing broadcasters, Skai TV, an arch enemy of the current government got one license and Antenna TV won another. New entities “Alter Ego” owned by shipping magnate Evangelos Marinakis, and a company headed by construction magnate Christos Kalogritsas snapped up the remaining two.
Read about the 4 winners here(link)
What does it mean? It is hard to say. Control of the media? Certainly this auction was not about stupid TV shows for which Greece does not have a problem producing and airing. More likely the visible goal was balanced reporting of current events, which was not the strength of right wing media tycoons. And maybe a little corruption along the way.
The € 240 million collected by the state is a paltry amount, so it wasn’t about the money.