With a vote of 14 to 11, the Greek Council of State High Court ruled on Wednesday that the national law through which the TV licensing tender and procedure took place earlier in 2016 is unconstitutional. The court found that there is no room to correct the law, and so it will be scrapped in its entirety. New Europe had warned against the unconstitutional nature of the law in September.
According to reports, the verdict of the country’s Higher Court, found that the law tabled by the government and spearheaded by Greek Minister of State Nikos Pappas, was not in line with the constitutional provisions on licensing, on the basis that the allocation of TV licenses is the sole competence of the Greek National Council for Radio and Television (NCRTV).
The NCRTV is an independent supervisory and regulatory administrative authority of the radio and television market whose function and duties are enshrined the constitution. It was effectively rendered inert earlier this year by Pappas through forcing some of its members out through law which his government majority forced through Parliament.
Sources said late on Wednesday that the plenary of the Council of State reached this decision with a majority of 14 to 11. The decision is expected to be formally announced on Thursday.
Government sources initially responded that Greece’s television landscape is now “returning to illegality”.
“The Council of State’s decision creates a sense of injustice,” said Minister of State Nikos Pappas, speaking to Greek state broadcaster, ERT, adding that the government “is prepared”, and will table a bridge-law on Monday, until the country’s television landscape is set.
“The hijacking in Greece will not continue,” Pappas underlined, adding that “those who dream of political destabilisation scenarios, should change the side they sleep on,” a Greek expression meaning that it will not happen. Pappas also noted that the government is well prepared to legislate on Monday and that the opposition should not dream of destabilisation.
“Governments are not taken down by law court verdicts, but from people’s will,” Pappas underlined. “They won’t succeed in operating channels away from the strict regulation of the government. Those who do dream of the restoration of impunity should forget all about it. I have not signed any extension of temporary TV channel operation, which means that no channel is now working lawfully.”
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to announce a government reshuffle, within the weekend or the 28 October national holiday.