Cyprus Mail

TV stations fight to stay on air in digital platform fee dispute

THE HEAD of one of the TV channels in danger of closing down on September 1 due to a financial dispute with the privately-owned digital platform Velister, said on Monday, he was hopeful a solution would be found by the August 31 deadline.
Capital’s Achilleas Demetriou told the Cyprus Mail, he and the heads of the other two channels, Extra and Mad, are in constant contact with Velister and the government and indicated that a compromise solution might be on the cards.
“We hope to have a solution this week,” he said. “I believe we will.”
The three channels whose signal is carried by Velister are in dispute with the platform over annual fees. Velister, a private company owned by various local TV stations, has threatened to axe them if they refused to cough up €181,900 annually as of June this year. The cost was increased from €120,000 per annum previously because of the collapse of Lumiere TV which maintained, and paid for, a handful of channels last year.
A private company owned by various local TV stations, Velister is a platform carrying digital signals for licensed television channels at an annual fee.
The recent mediation was a government-initiated effort, and resulted in a temporary compromise last month with the channels renewing their agreements with Velister for one month, accepting the increased fees for the month of July only, but said they would not accept it permanently. However the dispute was not resolved in July and the channels again accepted the higher fee until the end of August, which is now looming.
Demetriou said the sides were currently negotiating by phone but he was hopeful for a meeting later in the week though no particular day has been fixed.
“But I have a feeling this issue will be solved this week,” he said.
In addition to the Velister annual fee, TV stations must pay a €51,000 annual broadcasting licence.

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