Greek gov’t vexes foes with TV license issues

After three years of false starts, the Greek government unexpectedly announced that it had chosen the stations to which it will award television licenses.

The country’s top two commercial stations, Mega Channel and Antenna, were both approved for national licenses. Between them, they command about two-thirds of the television audience.

Also approved were cultural programmer Seven-X, the socialist station Channel 29, and New Channel and New Television (both of which are openly aligned with the government).

Regional licenses were given to Super Hellas, Tele City, Tele Now, TV 100 and Macedonia TV — all which are pro-government. All licenses are for seven years.

Silencing the critics

Not everyone, however, is happy with the government’s awards. Two key broadcast hopefuls — both of which are unsympathetic to the government — were rejected: Sky TV and 902 Left.

Both applicants had been recommended for licenses by the country’s highest audiovisual authority, the National Radio Television Council.

The denial of licenses to them is seen by most observers here as a ham-fisted attempt by the government to silence critics. With its popularity plummeting in the polls, the government has become very sensitive to any sort of attack.

902 Left is the station of the Greek Communist Party, which is diametrically opposed to the policies of the ruling conservative New Democratic Party. Nevertheless, the Greek communists are respected across the entire political spectrum.

Relentlessly hostile

Sky TV is the outgrowth of Sky Radio, the No. 1 radio station in the country. Although Sky’s format is basically all news and talk, it has become tremendously popular because of its unique political position. The station is relentlessly hostile to the government and especially to Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis.

Sky TV would likely follow the same policy, which is why the government opted to nip it in the bud.

The Greek Communist Party has already announced that, license or no license, 902 Left is going to broadcast.

Press reports suggest that Sky is, if anything, speeding up its plans to inaugurate its television station. Furthermore, seven members of the NRTC announced that they will challenge the government’s decision in the courts if necessary.

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