In the broadcast sector, the main regulatory body is the National Council for Radio and Television. The regulator was founded in 1989 with the law 1866 in order to supervise and regulate the radio/television market. In theory it was created to ensure the maintenance of objectivity and quality within the broadcasting flow, but in practice it worked as a buffer between the partisan interests of the government of the day and the vested interests of the broadcasting companies. Over the years it was entrusted with new responsibilities, defined in new laws (2173/1993, 2328/1995, and 2644/1998). Until 2001 the responsibilities and the legal status of its members were regulated through legislative provisions. Since 2001 (after the revision of the Greek Constitution) these issues have been constitutionally vested. More specifically, the NCRTV was included in the independent authorities by the Seventh (Z΄) Revisionary Greek Parliament. According to article 15 of the Greek Constitution (2nd paragraph) “radio and television shall be under the direct control of the state” and the NCRTV, as an independent administrative authority, is entrusted with the supervision of the broadcasting sector. NCRTV was the bone of contention regarding the television licences in 2016, as above noted, since the political parties could not agree on the new members. After the ruling of the Hellenic Council of State (the Supreme Administrative Court of Greece) that NCRTV only could award the TV licenses, the political parties reached an agreement and now the Council is under new composition. However, since the number of political parties has increased in the Parliament, the number of members in the Council’s Board also increased from 7 to 9. According to the Constitution, the NCRTV is expected to perform the following functions:
- Supervise the radio and television programmes in terms of content so as a) to meet the aims of objective and equal transmission of information, news, literature and art products (as provided in the Constitution), b) to ensure the quality level of programmes, the respect of human dignity, the protection of childhood and youth.
- Set codes of conduct for the news broadcasts, the advertisements and the entertainment programmes, which are ratified by Presidential Decree.
- Issue the statutory notices, grants, renews and revokes for the licenses of the terrestrial radio and television stations as well as any permits and approvals under existing broadcasting regulation.
- Address public or private broadcasters with instructions, recommendations or questions and express opinions on the application of the provisions of relevant laws and regulations.
- Keep register of the Media Enterprises - including information regarding the ownership of the media companies and enterprises operating in the wider media sector.
- Verify compliance with the provisions relating to proprietary restrictions on business ownership of radio or television stations and publishes information regarding the ownership of radio and television stations.
- Express its opinion towards the Minister of Interior Affairs regarding the persons appointed as members of public service broadcaster’s Board (ERT SA).
- Supervise compliance with the provisions governing the operation of public and private broadcasters and impose the prescribed administrative sanctions.
To ensure compliance with the decisions of the NCRTV, Law 2863/2000 entitles the media regulatory authority to impose a number of administrative sanctions and measures. In case of violation of the law (national, European, international) regarding broadcasting services and copyright or in case of violation of broadcasting ethics the NCRTV can decide ex officio (or after a request on the part of the responsible Minister or following a complaint) to impose the following sanctions: a) recommendation for compliance with a specific law provision along with notice of imposition of other penalties, b) fine, c) temporary suspension of up to three months or termination of the transmission of a specific programme, d) temporary suspension of up to three months of any programme’s transmission, e) temporary suspension of the station’s license or revocation of the station’s license, f) moral sanctions (such as compulsory transmission of notice related to imposed sanctions). In urgent cases of obvious violation of the broadcasting legislation the President of the media regulatory body may order the postponing or the interruption of specific (radio/television) programmes. The broadcaster is notified of the decision in the most expedient way. Within three working days the NCRTV in plenary session finally decides wether to transmit the programme or not.
The telecommunications sector and the technical infrastructure are regulated by the National Commission of Telecommunications and Postal Services (NCTP or EETT in Greek), established in 1992 with the Law 2075. It is an independent authority controlling and supervising the market of electronic communications (companies of fixed and mobile telephony, wireless communications and Internet) as well as the postal market. It is empowered to: a) supervise and control the network/services providers of electronic communications, b) impose the relevant sanctions, c) manage the register of electronic communications providers, d) issue codes of ethics for the provision of networks and services in the electronic communications field, e) ensure compliance with the legislation on electronic communications, f) regulate matters regarding consumer protection in the electronic communications and postal services sector (Karakostas and Tsevas 2012).
The press field is not subject to any regulatory authority, however the freedom of the press is enshrined in the Constitution (article 14) as an institutional guarantee (Karakostas and Tsevas 2012).
Regarding the Internet, Greece lacks a regulatory entity dedicated to monitoring or supervising the online content. The only type of protection provided to Internet users derives from a police authority, named Cyber Crime Unit, whose task is to prevent, investigate or repress crimes and antisocial behaviours, and committed through the Internet or other electronic communication means, non-for-profit organisation, known as the Greek Self-Regulating Organisation for Internet Content, or Safenet, has been in operation since November, 1999. Safenet’s mission is to promote self-regulatory procedures for the safer use of the Internet, so as to protect children from being exploited by sites of indecent content (pornographic, violent, and racist). Safenet is supported by Greek Internet industry corporations and organizations to help insure that children surf the Internet safely.
For the film regulation, the Ministry of Culture is the responsible body with contributions from the Greek Film Centre. The latter functions as a public liability company that belongs to the broader public sector, it is supervised by the Ministry of Culture and subsidized by the state. Its structure, powers and operation are regulated chiefly by Law 1597/86 “for the protection and development of the art of film and the support of Greek cinema” and by Presidential Decree 113/98. The aims of the Organization are: “the protection, support and development of the art of film in Greece” and “the presentation, promulgation and promotion of Greek films both at home and abroad”.
For media-related issues, there is a range of independent bodies such as the Hellenic Authority for Communication Security and Privacy (ADAE) and the Hellenic Data Protection Authority. The latter aims to the protection of personal data and privacy of individuals.
Last but not least, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) is an independent Authority enjoying operational independence, as well as administrative and financial autonomy. It is not subject to the control of governmental bodies or any other administrative authority. It also provides data on Greek media.