Since the 1980s, media deregulation has increased the viewing choices for audiences in Greece but the absence of regulation policy has helped concentrate ownership. Private channels operated using temporary licensed frequencies, the authorities dealt with the issue at surface level, and the media landscape is dominated by a handful of powerful newspaper interests that expanded into audiovisual and online media.
Greece’s parliament adopted last Saturday (24.10) a new law regulating the media landscape, in line with the ruling party pre-election promise to reform the sector and to redistribute licenses to private TV channels according to fair criteria. In the first such reform for years, the bill would require among other things for television stations to bid for 10-year national broadcast licences via auctions. Companies with tax arrears and those with other major public-sector contracts will be excluded and those participating in the auction must have a minimum share capital of 2-8 million euros and employ at least 50-400 people, depending on the programs they show.
Secretary General for Information Lefteris Kretsos, head of the primary authority responsible for media regulation and development, in an interview with Italian newspaper Il Manifesto (25.10.2015), stressed that the new law brings transparency and democracy, and tackles corruption meeting head-on a Berlusconi-type intertwining interests between politics and business.
In an earlier interview with DER SPIEGEL (6.8.2015), Kretsos had highlighted that “The owners of big TV channels influence political decisions, promote certain politicians while harming others, fight against specific ideas and political parties. And they use their influence in order to get bank loans that other companies can only dream of”.
Kretsos expected that the new policy will lead to growth and new jobs and dismissed accusations that the government's policy contains authoritarian traits: “It is not us that seek excessive power; media owners already have such power”.