Digital platform Velister’s warning to three channels that it will pull the plug on them unless they pay increased broadcasting fees is illegal and against pluralism, head of Capital TV Achilleas Demetriou said on Saturday.
Limassol-based stations Capital TV and EXTRA, along with music channel MAD TV, have launched a joint complaint against Velister after it increased their annual broadcasting fees by 50 per cent to €180,000 and told them that unless they settled their accounts by the end of June, the platform would stop broadcasting their programmes on Wednesday at noon.
“It is undemocratic and illegal to constantly increase fees since according to the Supreme Court, the public competition itself which granted Velister a digital platform is illegal,” Demetriou said.
Velister consortium consists of local channels Antenna, Logos which owns Mega, Sigma TV, Plus TV and subscriber channels LTV, Alpha, Primetel and Cablenet.
He added that when in 2010 the government announced a competition to grant a digital platform to a private company, Velister put in a €10m bid only because the other two companies that had expressed interest, CyTA and LRG, were not allowed to enter because they did not meet all criteria.
State broadcaster CyBC was also granted a digital platform without any competition.
“According to the law at least two companies must express interest for a public competition to be valid, but Velister was the only company in the competition. The Supreme Court already ruled that this competition was not legal and yet the government allows this company to operate and charge fees as it likes,” Demetriou said.
He said that his channel along with EXTRA and MAD TV are the only channels that are not part of the consortium and said that Velister may very well increase fees in three months’ time as had happened in the past.
“We are asking from the government to step in and cancel the decision. We face being cut off on Wednesday. So far we have been paying €120,000 per year and we have been consistent with payments. We cannot keep up every time Velister decides to increase the fees,” he said.