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Controversial Greece TV tender under way

Greece is auctioning four broadcasting licences, and the tender process started August 30th, although not without drama. A dummy run on August 29th created headaches as the electronic bidding system crashed twice.

Most of the remaining 8 interested bidders (out of a starting group of 11) have expressed reservations as to the tender’s transparency and some lawyers have said the whole process is illegal. Indeed, it is highly likely that the only guaranteed winners from the process will be the legal profession because already threats are being made.

One concerns a large construction firm which somehow missed the closing deadline for submitting its Letter of Guarantee for the €3 million starting deposit to enter the process, yet still ended up on the ‘approved’ bidders list.

Another concerns a media company which supplied its Letter of Guarantee from a Hong Kong bank, but instead of a 365-day duration for the Guarantee it only covered 36 days.

That application was disallowed, which only provoked objections.

Two of the authorised bidders (Skai TV and Alpha TV) are involved in the process, but are themselves objecting to a lack of transparency and saying that Broadcasting Minister Nikos Pappas is failing in his duties by not saying how many channels will eventually be licensed – and thus limiting how much value they can place on the process.

Greece’s Council of State is now involved and will rule during September on whether the tender process is constitutional. Nine formal objections have been filed alleging the complete process is illegal, or unfair. Central to the objections is that the process is wholly focussed on the highest bidders winning, and pays not regard to quality or diversity.

Meanwhile, bidders are forbidden to communicate with each other (and the police will guard each room occupied by the individual bidders), and bids must rise by €500,000 in each round on top of the €3 million starting point.

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