State Minister Pappas: If TV licencing law is found unconstitutional, this will mean a return to the previous status quo

If the Council of State finds a law that transferred powers to regulate the broadcast media to the government unconstitutional, there will be no choice but to return to the previous status quo for television stations, Minister of State Nikos Pappas said while speaking on the radio station ‘Parapolitika’ on Thursday.

“If the law is judged constitutional the process ends there, we pass on to the new television landscape and a new day. If it is judged unconstitutional, and especially as regards the aspect of powers – in other words, if the CoS expresses the view that in no case and for no reason should executive power have undertaken to organise the tender procedure – you understand that the government’s hands are tied. There is no option afterward but to return exactly to the status quo ante of unconstitutional operation without a licence of television stations,” Pappas said.

He underlined that the television stations had no operating licence, but only a state of “temporary legal operation,” and had been run by a “closed club” of media owners “pirating” the country’s broadcasting spectrum.

Pappas repeated that the government will continue to strive for consensus, noting that main opposition New Democracy had blocked efforts to form a new National Council for Radio and Television (NCRTV) in advance in opposition to the new law.

In the case that the law was found unconstitutional, the minister said that an extremely lengthy and time-consuming process would follow, since it would require the formation of the NCRTV and the launch of all legal procedures.
“In this case we return to a status quo in television that the constitutional court has itself described as illegal,” he added.

Regarding a recently tabled then hastily withdrawn amendment to the original law, Pappas insisted that he will table this in Parliament again, irrespective of when the Council of State reached its decision. “This process of the transition to the new television landscape cannot be postponed indefinitely,” he noted, pointing that there were legal provisions before his own law that forbid broadcasts by unlicensed television stations.