Gov’t awaits Council of State ruling on TV permits


Government officials indicated Tuesday that a cabinet reshuffle will probably happen next week rather than this week as the administration awaits Wednesday’s anticipated court verdict on the constitutionality of a controversial auction for television licenses and attempts to keep a lid on internal dissent.

Sources close to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras indicated Tuesday that an overhaul of the cabinet is unlikely in the coming days despite reports that the reshuffle was slated for this week amid feverish speculation about who will replace whom. Meanwhile a meeting of leftist SYRIZA’s central committee over the weekend highlighted the objections of the radical Group of 53 to the government’s policy as well as a differentiation of stance by certain ministers, notably Energy Minister Panos Skourletis and Shipping Minister Theodoros Dritsas, as regards planned privatizations.

There appeared to have been a shift in stance also on the matter of television licenses. Last week State Minister Nikos Pappas, who oversaw the auction, and other government officials indicated that the previous state of affairs would apply in the event that the Council of State deems the law to be unconstitutional. Now officials are suggesting that a verdict that questions the auction would merely necessitate some “corrections” to the existing law. Government officials are preparing for all eventualities, sources said.

Judges on the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, are to meet Wednesday afternoon, following an initial session on Monday, to decide on a set of appeals lodged against the auction by six television channels. They are expected to rule on the constitutionality of two things: the fact that Pappas oversaw the auction rather than the National Broadcasting Council (ESR), and that the government limited the number of nationwide licenses to four.

The government argues that ESR could not oversee the auction as objections from the political opposition prevented it from convening. It remains unclear, however, whether the court will take this practical obstacle into account when ruling.