BRUSSELS (CN) – Europe’s second-highest court annulled a European Commission’s decision to cancel some of the benefits Portugal granted to Radiotelevisao Portuguesa SA, the country’s public television station.
The Court of First Instance found that tax exemptions granted to the public station do not qualify as state aid. It also concluded that Portugal had no duty to take bids from other stations vying to provide public broadcasting service, because the service was funded by the public.
Portugal has the authority to set standards and guidelines for public television, the court ruled, but it must also disclose audit reports in order for the commission to conduct a diligent and impartial” investigation of its funding. Because it failed to supply these records, the court cannot determine whether the station received more than its fair share of public financing.
The case stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the Sociedade Independente de Comuicacao SA, one of the main private television stations in Portugal.