Controversial tender for broadcasting licenses to get under way

Police cordoned off the street of the General Secretariat of Information and Communication in downtown Athens on Monday, during a simulation of the tender process.

TAGS: Media

A tender for four broadcasting licenses is due to start at 9 a.m. Tuesday in a process that is already fraught with controversy as most bidders have expressed reservations regarding its transparency and legal experts have questioned its legality.

Even a simulation held Monday at the General Secretariat of Information and Communications in downtown Athens was not without drama, as the electronic system crashed twice in the presence of the bidders.

Controversy has also arisen over two bidders. The first is a construction firm that missed the deadline for submitting a letter of guarantee for 3 million euros, and the second is a media company that supplied a guarantee from a Hong Kong bank with a duration of 36 rather than the required 365 days.

Objections by Skai and Alpha TV, which are among the other bidders, led to the exclusion of the media company but not of the construction firm by the supervising committee, which was appointed by State Minister Nikos Pappas and has also been subject to criticism.

Critics also point to a lack of transparency as regards another tender for thematic broadcasters, saying that Pappas has not announced how many such channels will be allowed to air or how much the starting price for those licenses will be, thus preventing the players for the four main licenses from exploring their options further.

The Council of State will rule on whether the tender is constitutional in September.