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On the way for the television licenses

On the way for the television licenses
Athens, August 22, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

The old media system is on its last legs and the last convulsive movements of the once mighty factors of the space confirm this. The latest desperate efforts to cancel the process of statutory licensing of broadcasting frequencies, unfortunately with the collaboration of journalists, has exceeded the limits of vulgarity and self-humiliation.

It appears that the SYRIZA-ANEL government and State Minister Nikos Pappas are winning the bet to put legality rules to the unregulated and monopolistic landscape of television, with the final act of the procedure taking place on August 30.

But why this reaction by the old owners, who illegally for 27 years have been using television frequencies? What are they scared of and strongly object to the opening of a "closed" in essence profession?

Nine contestants will compete for the four licenses to be issued for TV channels nationwide and these are:

  1. NEWS DOT COM SA BROADCASTING AND COMMERCIAL COMPANY OF INFORMATION AND INFORMING (SKAI SA)
  2. NEW TELEVISION SA (N.T.V.)
  3. ANTENNA TV SA
  4. ALPHA SATELLITE TELEVISION SA (ALPHA)
  5. BROADCASTING SA (RADIO-TV E)
  6. YANNIS VLADIMIROS CH. KALOGRITSAS TELEVISION OF PANHELLENIC COVERAGE SA (T.P.K. ppm)
  7. ALTER EGO MEDIA SA (ALTER EGO Media Inc.)
  8. INDEPENDENT TELEVISION CONTENT PROVIDER SA (ITV CP)
  9. DIMERA MEDIA INVESTMENTS LIMITED

The first five companies own already existing television channels under the old - now illegal - regime, and these are SKAI, Antenna, Star, Alpha and Epsilon. SKAI and Alpha face the most problems as their owners are under investigation by the Inquiry Committee of the House for SME loans. The fortune of Yannis Alafouzos of SKAI has already been withheld by the Great Wealth Control Center, for tax evasion in the region of EUR 58 mln, the origin of which he hasn't justified as of yet.

The owner of Alpha Dimitris Kontominas, who is being audited for illegal loans from Postbank, transferred his shares to his daughter so that the participation of Alpha in the tender won;t be in danger.

Antenna and Star do not face charges and investigations, so their owners, Minos Kyriakou and Vardis Vardinogiannis can and have the economic capacity to participate in the competition.

The alleged owner of E TV, Philipos Vryonis, has said that he will give EUR 35 mln for a license, which if it happens it would raise the bar for the other contenders very high.

Among the new faces who will participate in the tender, the ones that stands out is the name of Vangelis Marinakis, owner and president of the most popular football team in Greece, Olympiakos, as well as that of Ivan Savvides, the expatriate businessman from Russia, who is the owner of the football team PAOK, the most popular team in Northern Greece.

Both have great financial standing and their goal is to have a dynamic presence in the newly shaped landscape of television licenses. Vangelis Marinakis has unfinished business with the Law, but he has not been convicted yet. Hoowever just the fact could prove fatal to his hunt for a license.

As an underdog is considered one Yannis Vladimiros Kalogritsas, son of businessman and manufacturer Christos Kalogritsas, former publisher of the left newspaper "Proti" and close friend of several government officials of the SYRIZA-ANEL Government. His goal, as he himself has stated in publications, is the creation of a leftist channel, after the closure of "902 Left", which belonged to the Greek Communist Party (KKE).

Finally, the unidentified company from Cyprus, according to publications, belongs to companies that belong to the Vardinogiannis family - which also owns Star - as an alternative, according to rumours circulating the press, for the creation of a new "MEGA", the channel that failed to make the final cut, and in which the Vardinogiannis family is also a shareholder.

In less than 10 days the landscape will have cleared and it will become obvious where the truth lies. What is certain is that television landscape will be different, whether this will be for the better or for the worse it remains to be seen. But at least finally the Greek state will take what its due from the now legal television licenses.

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