The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is concerned by a recent government cut backs of the number of television channels operating in the country.
On 2 September Greece offered only four broadcasting licenses to channels, claiming that this will help regulate the sector and allow it to stay viable, given that it is already in debt. The number of permits is also said to have been based on advertising industry estimates. Once all four broadcasters are chosen, each will have two weeks to pay the first portion of the required sum, based on the outlet’s profits.
However, the fact that only four licenses are being offered means that several of the eight private channels broadcasting nationwide will have to shut down. The regulation is being criticized as a gag order that will curb free speech and put thousands of people out of work. The four licences were won by three ship owners and a construction tycoon.
‘SEEMO is concerned that the recently announced cutbacks in Greece will endanger media plurality,’ said SEEMO General Secretary Oliver Vujovic. ‘Having access to a range of broadcasters is essential in any democratic society so that citizens have enough information to form independent opinions and make informed political choices. SEEMO supports a regulation of the media market in Greece, including very important system of licences for all TV channels, but the system and selection should be transparent and made in cooperation with journalist and media associations and according to international standards”.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.