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Greece Nears B’cast Law To Regulate TV

Greece’s press and mass media minister, Evangelos Venizelos, said Feb. 23 that his Socialist government is close to making public a new broadcast law that it hopes will regulate the country’s chaotic television industry, but which may also restrict the amount of American fare shown here.

The new law, which Venizelos hopes to submit to Parliament after the March 8 presidential elections, will replace legislation approved in 1989. Venizelos has described that law, which broke the state’s broadcast monopoly, as outdated.

The government says the law will reflect the European Union’s audiovisual directive and, according to Venizelos, “will be even more strict.”

Greece was one of the few countries to openly side with France at the European Union’s audiovisual conference in Bordeaux earlier last week. “We are in favor of percentages,” Venizelos said, referring to the EU quota system requiring stations to allocate 51% of air time to European programs.

On average, American features, TV series and children’s programming have a 6-4 advantage over European programming on Greece’s five major nets. European programming, mostly Greek, has an eight-to-10 advantage in news and sports shows.

Venizelos said the new law also will stamp out television piracy by regulating the number of television licenses and control the number of media outlets owned by a single individual or company.

The law would effectively limit ownership to one television station and two radio stations. Industry analysts are skeptical about the ability of the government to enforce the two regulations.

There are 180 TV webs broadcasting around Greece and the government hopes to issue licenses to about 20.

The government also hopes the new broadcast law will stop a threat of trade sanctions issued by the office of U.S. Trade Representative in December.

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