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Businessman Kalogritsas withdraws from TV license procedure; most probably he bowed to competitors’ pressure

The expected end of a long media campaign: Ioannis Vladimiros Kalogritsas, one of the winners of the four TV licenses bid, announced his withdrawal from the procedure at Monday noon.

All four winners had to pay the first installment for the TV licenses by Monday afternoon. Monday morning, Kalogritsas requested a 48-hour extension in order to fulfill his payment obligation. The government turned down his request citing the terms & conditions of the bid.

Kalogritsas withdrew and lost not only the TV license but also 3million euros of the letter of guarantee he had originally submitted in order to take part in the bid..

In a letter Kalogritsas wrote that he withdraws “for reasons not related to his choices” and “for reasons that everyone is aware of.”

In a particularly sharp tone, Kalogritsas stressed that for about a month his family and he were target of a smear campaign, where “I learned that I am immoral, that I owe to the State, that i am a fraudster  fraudsters and that I was fortunate to have been born after 1962, otherwise they should have charged me also with Kennedy’s assassination.”

He claimed that the campaign against him and his family was launched because he had decided “to get involved in the TV licenses bid and enter a closed circle of interests, wanting to dominate not only channels but also the country.”

He attacked Alafouzos (SKAI TV) and Kontominas (ALPHA TV) saying that they were under investigation for tax evasion worth millions of euros.

Ioannis Kalogritsas and his father Christos, a constructor,  became target of a broad media campaign that was joined also by some political parties. They were accused of massive loans from the Attica Bank in order to finance their participation in the TV licenses bid, for overpriced guarantees in form of land plots and for having bided with money they did not have. Over the weekend, media claimed that Christos Kalogritsas had also evaded taxes.

The so-called Kalogritsas-Gate had a heavy political price for PM Tsipras, Media Minister Pappas as the businessman was SYRIZA-friendly. Furthermore, Kalogritsas was also best-man of Kammenos, the junior partner of the coalition government.

Two of the winners (SKAI/Alafouzos & ALTER EGO/Marinakis) had paid 14.5million and 24.6million respectively on Freiday, ANTENNA TV/Kyriakou made a payment of 25.3million on Monday.

Now the General Secretariat for News & Communications will have to offer the TV license to businessman Ivan Savvidis, who made the next best offer at the bid. If Savvidis cannot pay the first installment, the interest will focus on Dimitris Kontominas (Alpha TV) who made the next best offer after Savvidis.

After Kalogritas’ withdrawal, Savvidis said that he is ready to pay the first installment for a TV license in the next few days.

Kontominas asked that the TV license bid is cancelled all together.

Now some mean Greeks await for the next TV-license-Gate to break out as Savvidis is also new to the Greek media landscape.

PS in the end, “the payment extension was an elegant way to withdraw from a case that was politically very  risky for the government,” a friend commented. But the friend is like our younger cat: she claims she knows everything.

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