By Andria Kades
Five Greek TV channels have shown an interest in setting up shop in Cyprus, chairman of the Cyprus Broadcasting authority Andreas Petrides said on Tuesday.
Alpha Cyprus has already obtained its licence to operate and reports circulating in Greek and local press say SKAI TV is next on the list.
According to Greek paper To Paron tis Kiriakis, SKAI is looking to register in Cyprus following a bill passed by the Greek parliament allowing for more transparent procedures requiring television stations to bid for 10-year licences via auctions.
Companies participating in the auction for national broadcast licences must have a minimum share capital of €2-8 million and employ at least 50-400 people, depending on the programmes they show, Reuters said.
Petrides, speaking to the Cyprus Mail, said SKAI had no direct communication with the Cyprus broadcasting authority but they had communicated via law and accounting firms for the past two to three months.
“I believe the reason for the interest Greek channels have for Cyprus is due to a bill, passed a few weeks ago… due to the complicated procedures that have been voted for and due to the enormous costs they face,” they are looking towards Cyprus as a European State that abides with European directives for cross border TV.
Although Alpha and SKAI are the two known channels, Petrides refrained from naming which other three channels have displayed interest in Cyprus.
He also said the cost of obtaining a licence on the island was €51,400 and not the €300,000 fee that was reported in the Greek press.
SKAI’s contacts with Cypriot authorities were reported on over a year ago when the channel’s owner Giannis Alafouzou travelled to the island with a team meeting a series of government officials and Kathimerini newspaper owner, Politis said.
According to the report SKAI has already had a number of meetings with the Cyprus Broadcasting Authority and although it has yet to apply for a licence it would not operate the same way Alpha Cyprus will, broadcasting local news.
SKAI was not immediately available for comment to the Cyprus Mail, however the Greek press has attributed the interest as a means of escaping justice as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has officials knocking on media moguls’ doors to end long standing practises allowing channels to obtain huge loans over the phone, serving as puppets for certain state officials and private investors.
Apparently, since the Greek media market was deregulated in 1989, TV stations would obtain temporary licences and not pay fees or tax on their advertising revenues.