Article 3 of Greek Law 4367/2016 stipulates that only four (4) national television permits may be issued to individuals in Greece and, what is more, that this must be done following a public tendering procedure. Apart from one vague reference in Article 15(2) of the Greek constitution, the above restriction was put in place first and foremost for purely economic reasons, such as covering public debt. It claimed to be based on a study by the European University Institute in Florence which, taking into account the unclear data of the Greek market only, adopted unreliable analyses, as can be seen in particular from the newer, independent study of April 2016, carried out by the Director of Computing at MIT Media Lab, M. Bletsas (http://www.skai.gr/files/1/PDF/medialab.pdf) and from the confirmation given on 20 April 2016 by the manager of the digital spectrum (DIGEA — Digital Provider ΑΕ) that currently in Greece the transmission of sixteen (16) national channels is technically possible.
In view of this:
1. Is the restriction on the number of television permits in line with EC law, given that making the broadcast of television news subject to having a permit first constitutes a restriction on the free provision of services?
2. Since the Greek Government has started the public tendering procedure for the issue of those permits, and in doing so is also circumventing the requirement set out in the Greek constitution, what initiatives will the Commission take to ensure that this responsibility is given to an independent authority?
Answer given by Mr Oettinger on behalf of the Commission
The procedures for the granting of content licences for television channels have not been harmonised at EU level. Member States may operate content licensing regimes in line with domestic requirements if these comply with EC law, including the freedoms to provide services and of establishment set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
The Commission has received a complaint regarding the issue of content licences in Greece and is aware of the launch of the public tender procedure in this regard. The Commission is looking into the issue. To the Commission's knowledge, court cases regarding the public tender procedure for the licensing of content providers in Greece are pending before Greek courts.