State minister defends TV licensing law, says he will not resign


State Minister Nikos Pappas on Thursday morning defended a law auctioning television licenses to the highest bidder, after the Council of State deemed the process unconstitutional.

Speaking on state broadcaster ERT, Pappas, who was responsible for drafting and implementing the law culling the number of stations allowed to broadcast, responded to opposition demands for his resignation by saying that he “enjoys the confidence of the prime minister” and that such calls “are baseless at this time.”

The country’s highest administrative court late on Wednesday ruled against the process with a majority of 14 to 11 on the basis of the argument that the law countered the constitutional provision putting the allocation of TV licenses under the competence of the National Broadcasting Council – the industry’s independent regulator – and not the government’s.

“We encountered a lot of institutional obstacles,” Pappas said. “I believe that we acted correctly.”

The state minister, a close aide of leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, said that while the Council of State’s decisions will be “respected,” they will also “be judged.”

“Station owners got their licenses in the past by pressuring the state,” Pappas said. “If anyone believes that the Council of State’s decision will make us behave like our predecessors and that I will go back to my office and sign off on temporary licenses as was done in the past, they are mistaken.”

Pappas said that “there is no way we will legitimize the legislative void that has been created. As of Monday we will have new regulations.”