ATHENS Oct 19 A plan by Greece to reduce its
number of TV stations suffered setbacks on Wednesday after a
court said it would examine if the move was legal, and
apparently hacked emails detailing a judge's private life were
The Council of State, a 30-bench panel of judges that is the
country's top administrative court, said late on Tuesday it
would review whether the process followed by authorities to
issue new television broadcasting licences was constitutional
after media companies complained.
The cash-strapped leftist government unexpectedly raised 246
million euros ($270 million) from last month's auction of four
permits, down from the current eight, after authorities
concluded four was the number of broadcasters that could stay
viable based on advertising industry estimates.
Media workers fearing job cuts reacted angrily, and
opposition parties portrayed the cut as an attempt to gag
critics. The political affiliation of at least two of the new
broadcasters is unclear.
As a ruling was awaited on whether the case was admissible
at the Council of State, Greek media said one member of the
court was potentially vulnerable to outside influence after
emails from him suggesting an affair with a married woman were
Avgi, a newspaper run by the ruling Syriza party, named the
judge. Another media outlet that reported the story did not.
The judiciary criticised the intrusion. "The privacy of a
judge of recognised standing has been violated, abused and
offered as fodder to a lurking gutter press and that element of
public opinion moulded by it," the Society of Judges and
Prosecutors said in a statement.
The opposition New Democracy party accused the government of
trying to influence the judicial process, but Syriza officials
distanced themselves from the leak.
"In my view, it is unethical to link any events with the
personal life of anyone," said Nikos Pappas, the minister of
state who is overseeing the auction process, told Greek TV.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, elected on promises to take
on the country's oligarchs, many of who run TV stations, has
said the auction process would help bring order to a sector in
debt and generally discredited due to political links.
($1 = 0.9118 euros)
(Reporting By Michele Kambas)