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The Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission, due to various articles that were published in the Press and to reports of various television programs that were broadcasted regarding matters relating to television stations and in order to duly inform the public, would like to note the following.

The Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission is the competent authority for monitoring and controlling the spectrum of radio frequencies. Within the framework of this competency, the Commission, in collaboration with other co-competent authorities, conducts intensive investigations in order to establish and to subsequently interrupt the operation of illegal stations. In addition, it proceeds in any action that must be taken in order to resolve any problem that lawfully-established stations face due to transmission interferences (in other words, cases in which a station interferes with the transmission of a lawfully-established station, whereas the former transmits on an approximate frequency or does not fulfil the necessary technical specifications). The Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission gives priority to protecting the networks of important services, such as air navigation, since interference with these frequencies may endanger a person’s life.

Illegal radio and television stations:

  • that detrimentally interfere with the frequencies of the Civil Aviation Service or with other sensitive networks,
  • that interfere with the unhindered operation of lawfully-established radio and television stations, or
  • that do not operate with a license, thus competing unfairly with lawfully-established stations,

fall into the Commission’s competency, in other words that of monitoring and controlling the spectrum of radio frequencies.

It should be noted that the competent authority for (a) issuing licenses to radio and television stations and (b) controlling the content of the programs that these stations transmit is the Greek National Council for Radio and Television and not the Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission. Moreover, the Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission does not have any competency whatsoever on matters concerning ‘90’ numbers.

It should be noted that the definite licensing of all radio and television stations throughout Greece on behalf of the Greek National Council for Radio and Television has not yet been completed. However, almost all stations that are permitted to transmit signals are temporarily deemed as operating lawfully (pursuant to the transitional provisions of the legislation relating to radio and television stations). The lists of lawfully-operating radio and television stations that are kept by the Greek National Council for Radio and Television are not complete, whereas, among other things, they do not include the necessary technical features of each station and are, thus, subject to frequent amendments (additions – deletions – change of ownership, distinct titles, etc), a fact that hinders the Commission’s monitoring work.

In the case in which signals are transmitted within frequency zones that are intended for radio and television stations for which the legality status is not clear, the legal framework stipulates that the Greek National Council for Radio and Television must provide notification relative thereto. Whereas the radio and television sector, according to the above, changes dynamically every time the distinct titles of transmissions change or a new transmission appears within the legal zone, the Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission cannot immediately take any action but must rather wait, in any case, for a relative notification on behalf of the Greek National Council for Radio and Television.

The procedure that is followed for repressing illegal radio and television transmissions is, in short, the following:

  • The Greek National Council for Radio and Television forms an opinion relating to the transmission’s legality, according to the above.
  • The Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission locates, following a technical investigation that it conducts, the broader region in which illegal stations transmit their signals.
  • In the presence of a judicial officer and with the assistance of the police department, it locates the exact position where the equipment is installed.
  • Following an order of the judicial officer, the police-investigating officers enter the area that houses the equipment that is used for illegal transmission and proceed in the seizure thereof and, whenever this is possible, in the offender’s arrest.

Since 2001, approximately 280 illegal stations have been located and seized, 60 of which were illegal television stations that transmitted programs with a pornographic content. Particularly in the region of Thessalonica, over the past three years, 33 illegal stations have been located and seized, 6 of which concerned illegal television programs that transmitted indecent programs. It should be noted that on 1 December 2003 the Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission established a Regional Office in Thessalonica the purpose of which is to resolve these problems in Northern Greece faster and more efficiently.

Nevertheless, in spite of the efforts of both the Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission and of the co-competent authorities, as long as no action is being taken, the problem of illegal transmission, both in Thessalonica and in the rest of Greece, will continue to exist, mainly due to the following reasons:

· A number of other small constructions and pylons, which do not belong to any legal or lawfully-operating radio or television station, have been randomly installed at transmission centres throughout Greece, in other words areas where the transmission aerials of radio and television stations have been installed. These installations could house and allow illegal stations to operate, thus rendering it difficult to locate them.

· In addition, on the one hand, technical means, such as cameras and remote controls, have been installed and operate within these transmission centres and, on the other hand, many times a person is located within these constructions who deactivates the illegal transmission systems whenever he sees that properly equipped technical employees of the Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission are approaching. This renders it difficult and almost impossible to accurately locate the area where the illegal station is set up, particularly when this area is located within a forest of constructions and pylons. It should be noted that in similar operations breaking and entering into all constructions is prohibited.

· Finally, even in cases in which transmission points are located and the illegal equipment is seized, offenders, in most cases, in a very short time begin to re-transmit their signals by breaking the seal that encloses the construction and by installing new transmission equipment, since these areas are not guarded or controlled by the State.

Taking into consideration the above, the Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission, apart form its operations and its continuous efforts to efface the phenomenon of illegal stations, has repeatedly informed the competent authorities of the existing problems, proposing actions, which, however, lie outside its area of competency. These actions, which will lead to the definite resolution of the problem of illegal radio and television transmissions, are:

· Definite licensing of all radio and television stations throughout Greece by the Greek National Council for Radio and Television. This licensing shall define, apart from the legal stations, all technical specifications thereof, such as frequency and point of transmission.

· Creating organised radio and television aerial parks, according to international standards, so that a complete record of installations and a correspondence thereof with their owners and users is available for each transmission centre, and guarding the installations.

· Contribution on behalf of all co-competent services, such as the Forestry Service and the Town planning Service, so that all constructions and pylons that are set up at the existing transmission centres could be controlled, so that the owners thereof could be determined and so that all installations that do not serve legal users could be removed. Moreover, contribution on behalf of the Public Power Corporation, which may interrupt the provision of electricity to all non-licensed stations.

In order to resolve these problems, on 30 September 2005 the Administration of the Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission met with the Chief Prosecutor of Athens in order to inform him of the aforementioned problems and to discuss how all the actions that must be taken could be coordinated.

The Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission intends to continue its efforts in controlling and repressing illegal transmissions and believes that with the cooperation of all co-competent organisations this matter could be definitely resolved.