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 they must be issued in accordance with a public tendering procedure. Apart from a vague reference in Article 15(2) of the Greek Constitution, the aforementioned restriction was put in place first and foremost for purely economic reasons, such as covering public debt. An attempt was made to support it using a study by the European University Institute of Florence which — by taking into account inconclusive data from only the Greek market — included unreliable analyses, as was made particularly apparent by the most recent independent study, dated April 2016, by the Director of Computing at MIT Media Lab, Mr M. Bletsas (http://www.skai.gr/files/1/PDF/medialab.pdf), and the confirmation of the administrator of the digital spectrum (Digea — Digital Provider plc), dated 20 April 2016, which states that in Greece it is currently technically possible to broadcast sixteen (16) stations nationwide.
Can the Commission say:
1. Is the restriction on the number of television licences in line with EC law, given that making the broadcast of television news subject to prior licencing constitutes a restriction on the free provision of services?
2. As the Greek Government has started the public tendering procedure for the issue of these licences, and in doing so is also circumventing a 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 Commission would like to refer the Honourable Member to its answer to Written Question E-005097/2016(1). 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.
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.