Commission Approves RTP Restructuring

BRUSSELS, July 7: The European Commission has approved the
financial restructuring agreement signed between the Portuguese government and
RTP aimed at reducing the pubcaster’s 1 billion euros debt.

The restructuring deal, which was signed in September 2003
and runs until 2019, is in line with EC Treaty state aid rules, the Commission
says. The Commission maintains that the 1 billion euros debt is “almost
entirely due to the constant under-financing of RTP’s public-service tasks in
the past.”

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes noted, “This decision
confirms Member States’ rights to define public-service tasks and to compensate
broadcasters for performing them, provided that the compensation is
proportional to the actual costs of the public service mission.”

From 1993 to 2003, the Commission received several
complaints from an unnamed commercial broadcaster with concerns about RTP’s
financing system. The Commission began its investigation in October 2003 and
closed it in March 2006.