Nationwide Survey on TV licenses after the ruling of the Supreme Court
- Greece -
- Greece -
Survey and Analysis of Results
Analysis by John D. Papadopoulos and Mario Schmidt
Our latest survey on the TV licenses tender is the third one we have prepared for the same topic since August 2016. This time, we focus on the reaction of the electorate after the ruling of the Supreme Court last week. The Court deemed unconstitutional Article 2A of Pappas Bill, which refers to the transfer of right/authorization to launch a tender from the Greek National Council for Radio and Television (NCRTV) to the General Secretariat of the Ministry of State.
The results of the survey show an overwhelming support to the government's legislative initiative, both before and after the ruling of the Court that has temporarily blocked the entire process, thus creating a limbo in the media landscape.
The story behind
The NCRTV is an independent administrative authority, founded in 1989, that supervises and regulates the radio and television market. In the beginning of 2015, the Greek government endeavored to come at ends meet with the opposition parties, especially with front opposition ND, and contribute collectively to the appointment of the the new board of NCRTV. According to the law, the board of NCRTV has to be appointed after qualified majority between the political parties has been reached. Until 2015 this was always the case, but since Syriza-led government came in power new challenges -and burdens- have seen the light.
Precisely, in January 2016, the Syriza-led government introduced and passed by the Parliament a new bill in order to address chaos and anomy in the media, set rules of transparency, and launch an auction for four TV licenses. Until 2016, Greece was the only EU member-state that has never regulated the media landscape nor proceeded to any kind of official authorization for the TV channels to operate.
In lack of any regulatory framework for 27 years, TV channels were operating under a temporary status with the owners missing to abide by their commitment to pay their taxes and all relevant dues to the state as they owe to, therefore exploiting the use of public frequencies.
ND party has been standing against Pappas bill from the very first day, blocking for 1,5 years the entire process. In August 2016, the government decided to abandon efforts to reach a compromise for the composition of NCRTV, which was responsible to launch the auction, and proceeded without the consent of the opposition parties, after having secured the "green light" from the Supreme Court to do so.
In our previous surveys (i.e. read the first part here and the second part here) you can find more information on that and what the public believed in late August and September over the relevant bill and the reaction of ND party.
The ruling of the Supreme Court
Last week, the Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional Article A2 of Pappas Bill - i.e. not the entire bill- , with which the General Secretariat was authorized to launch the tender in lack of political consent over the composition of the NCRTV. Minister of State Nikos Pappas is about to submit an amendment this week in order to establish the transitional status of the bill and address the limbo created by the decision of the Court and the denial of ND party to reach a compromise on NCRTV composition. In the meantime, the President of the Parliament, Nikos Voutsis, has been doing tenuous efforts to bring ND back to the negotiations table and put an end to NCRTV deadlock.
The ruling of the Court has stirred up reactions in political level for a number of reasons. In a comparative manner, the first reason deals with the previous rulings of the Court regarding highly-debated issues of the recent past, such as the adoption of MoUs (i.e. Memoranda of Understanding), the dire consequences over the society and the economy (e.g. pension cuts), and the shutting down of the Greek Public Broadcaster (ΕΡΤ) in 2013 by right-wing Samaras government. In all three major cases the Court has deemed legislative action constitutional, generating a controversial precedent for the current ruling over the TV licenses tender.
During this week, the political debate over the last decision has heated up, but is seems that the public has a quite clear view on that matter. In this survey, as in the previous ones, the overwhelming majority has supported Pappas Bill, standing firmly against the ruling of the Supreme Court and the stance assumed by the front opposition party.
Majority supports government's action
Before the ruling of the Court, the government has achieved to conclude with the TV licenses tender, securing €248 million. The first tranche of €80 million was paid by the four new holders of TV licenses couple of weeks ago, but the government was forced to reimburse them after the decision of the Court. The entire amount was aimed at supporting vulnerable social groups, as PM Tsipras pledged back in September, during the annual International Fair of Thessaloniki.
51% of the respondents (Q3) stated that the Court should take PM's decision into account before reaching a final decision, connecting also this socio-economic aspect with the fact that the Court has deemed unconstitutional the previous operational state of TV channels, causing a loss of hundreds of millions of euro for the state and encouraging unfair treatment against other taxpayers.
In addition to that, Minister of State Nikos Pappas attempts to include in the upcoming amendment of the bill the clause referring to the minimum number of employees each of the TV channels should recruit. ND party is against this clause, but the respondents of the survey seem to have a different view. By 68% they support the inclusion of this requirement with only 27% standing against.
Similarly goes with the amount all TV channel holders have to pay to become temporarily eligible to operate during this transitional phase and until the NCRTV is finally established. The government intends to set a certain amount that all holders should pay until the new auction takes place. This amount will be calculated based on the overall amount that has been collected after the end of the auction, with the government arguing that the stakes for media entrepreneurs are high and the gains for the public could be equally high. 64% stand in favor of this proposal, showing confidence to the government to move on.
Voting Intention - Analysis
For another time, Syriza party secures the first place with a considerable part of the electorate supporting the government despite the problems and discrepancies occurred in a number of policy fields. Nonetheless, it has to be noted that Syriza stands clear on top also because the electorate is disappointed by the performance of other parties, and especially by the front opposition party.
The message that has been delivered to the public after the conclusion of the second Congress of Syriza is clear. PM Tsipras wants to accelerate effective public policy in fields where the government has a free-hand, e.g. health, education, media, improvement of public administration's performance, while pushing for the successful conclusion of the second bailout review and a certain agreement on Greece's debt relief riddle.
At the same time, most of those that have supported Syriza party in the previous elections (i.e. September 2015) are feeling puzzled, confused, but also disappointed by the current state of the Greek economy, missing to understand that the downfall is mainly the combined outcome of decades of mismanagement, corruption, and lack of a certain, well-organized and clearly defined productive model. In this respect, economic hardship makes difficult for a big part of the population to understand negative balances for Greece in the European and international political field, and the fact that Eurozone is following a destructive path that affects not only Greece, but a growing number of member-states.
As of the front opposition party, New Democracy, things are pretty clear. The political strategy that has been adopted by Kyriakos Mitsotakis has completely failed.
The constant call for snap elections, the belligerent rhetoric against whatever the government does, the support of corrupted interests, as in the case of the media law, the proposal for tighter austerity as a remedy to exit economic slowdown, the goal to fully de-regulate the labour market, are all policy proposals that cannot mobilize wider segments of the society. The party cannot capitalize on the grievances of the electorate and drag support from undecided voters. This policy handicap damages the appeal of the party since early 2016.
As of far-right Golden Dawn, the third more powerful party in the Greek political spectrum according to September 2015 results, it slightly increases its performance. The Communist Party has the most interesting development, climbing in the third place and being the first party to increase appeal among a small part of undecided voters. No major changes observed for the rest of the parties, except for Democratic Coalition (i.e. PASOK/DIMAR/smaller groups) and Independent Greeks that show an upward trend.
November 7, 2016