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IRIS 2018-8:1/12

Cyprus

Extension of temporary television licences for one year to June 2019

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Christophoros Christophorou

Expert in Media and Elections

Audiovisual media service providers under Cypriotic jurisdiction will continue operating with temporary licences until the end of June 2019. Law 64(I)/2017 amending Article 56 of the Basic Law on Radio and Television Organisations L. 7(I)/1998, authorises the Radio Television Authority to extend the validity of TV licences for one more year for all operating service providers. The law was published in the Official Gazette on 29 June 2018. Licences issued since the switch-over to digital television in July 2011 to authorise digital transmission remain temporary. A decision on amendments to the Basic Law 7(I)/1998 to respond to the conditions of the new environment and to enable the issue of permanent licences is still pending, therefore temporary licenses have been renewed each year since then. Thus, temporary licensing has now been extended until 30 June 2019.

With the same amending law, temporary licences granted to legal entities of public law have also been extended for one year, even in cases where they do not fulfil all the requirements set by law; this is applicable, inter alia, to CYTA (Cyprus Telecommunications Authority - Αρχή Τηλεπικοινωνιών Κύπρου), a semi-governmental organisation that operates IPTV. Its capital share and structure as a legal entity of public law deviated from the model set out in the Basic Law, which requires, among other things, capital share dispersion and a ceiling of 25% for any shareholder. After having operated in an analogue environment, unregulated for online providers, CYTA benefited from a special provision voted in 2011 and continued operating in the digital environment.

Furthermore, the amending law authorises the Radio Television Authority to issue temporary licences to new applicants, which are also valid until the aforementioned date.

The Basic Law has remained unchanged since December 2010, when provisions of the AVMS Directive 2010/13/EU were incorporated into Cyprus national law. In its report of June 2018, the competent parliamentary committee repeated the same comments as in 2017 to the plenary of the House of Representatives: that the extension of temporary licences was deemed necessary pending comprehensive amendments to the Basic Law that would address a broad spectrum of issues. This would update the law and adapt it to the new environment, enabling the issue of permanent licences. No details are available about the timing of these expected amendments.

References
Αριθμός 64(Ι) του 2018 ΝΟΜΟΣ ΠΟΥ ΤΡΟΠΟΠΟΙΕΙ ΤΟΥΣ ΠΕΡΙ ΡΑΔΙΟΦΩΝΙΚΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΤΗΛΕΟΠΤΙΚΩΝ ΟΡΓΑΝΙΣΜΩΝ ΝΟΜΟΥΣ ΤΟΥ 1998 ΕΩΣ 2017, Αρ. 4659, 29.6.2018 EL
 http://merlin.obs.coe.int/redirect.php?id=19195
 
  Amending Law 64(I)/2018 of the Law on Radio and Television Organisations 7(I)/1998, 29 June 2018