The Greek government announced Friday it had awarded licenses to four private broadcasters, halving the number of private channels and bringing to an end a protracted and controversial tender process.
The winning bids went to two existing networks, Skai TV and Antenna TV, as well as shipping magnate Evangelos Marinakis and businessman Yannis Kalogritsas. Most of the country’s eight national private broadcasters, who have already mounted a legal challenge, will have 90 days before going off air.
While the bidding began at 3 million euros ($3.36 million), the four licenses were ultimately secured for between 43.6 million euros ($48.8 million) and 75.9 million euros ($85 million), pumping 246 million euros ($275 million) into the state’s coffers.
The government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ leftist Syriza party called the auction an attempt to regulate the media sector, which for years has been plagued by political cronyism, mismanagement and spiraling debt. But critics accused the government of using the process to strengthen its own grip on the industry.