Cyprus Mail

New stay of execution for battling TV channels

Three private TV channels have once again narrowly escaped closure on a Tuesday deadline in the  battle against digital platform Velister which wants €181,900 in annual fees to host their signals.

An ongoing dispute pitting Capital TV, Extra and MAD against privately owned Velister did not find the much anticipated solution by the end of August. Rather, they agreed to pay the higher fees for one more month, as they had before for July and August in the hope a compromise would be reached by Tuesday’s deadline.

Velister 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 because of the collapse of Lumiere TV which maintained, and paid for, a handful of channels last year.

Negotiations are still ongoing between the government, auditor general and all involved parties to find a solution. For the past three months theTV channels have been paying the pro rata higher fees in an attempt to find a long-term solution.

“I believe we will find a solution by mid-September,” Capital TV head Achileas Demetriou told the Cyprus Mail, echoing last month’s belief that a solution would be found by August 31 but it wasn’t.

Demetriou maintains his stance that Velister won a government competition granting a digital platform to a private company in 2010 illegally, as the other companies which had expressed an interest – CyTA and LRG – were not allowed to enter because they did not meet all of the criteria.

“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,” said Demetriou.

Velister consortium consists of local channels Antenna, Logos which owns Mega, Sigma TV, Plus TV and subscriber channels LTV, Alpha, Primetel and Cablenet.

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