Ordinance of the ECHR of 22 February 2018 on the case of the television company Alpha Doryforiki Tileorasi Anonymi Etairia v. Greece (application No. 72562/10).
In 2010, the applicant company was assisted in preparing the application. Subsequently, the application was communicated to Greece.
The complaint on the application to the applicant company of the sanction for the transmission of video recordings was successfully considered in the case. In the case of violation of the requirements of Art. 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms for a single episode of events and found no violation of the other.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
The applicant company is the owner of the Greek television channel Alpha, which broadcasts two television shows in which three video tapes made by a hidden camera were shown. The first video shows how AS, who was at the time a member of the Greek Parliament and chairman of the inter-party committee on electronic gambling, enters the center of gambling and plays on two machines. The second video shows the meeting of A.S. with the representatives of the owner of the television company, which was shown the first record. The third video recording was recorded by A.S. with the owner of the television company in the office of the latter. In response to these broadcasts, the State Council on Television and Radio obliged the applicant company to pay EUR 100,000 for each broadcast of television shows during which the videos were shown and to report on the Council's decision within the next three days as part of the main news show. The decision was supported by the Minister for Press and Mass Media Affairs. Subsequently, the Supreme Administrative Court rejected the application of the applicant company for the cancellation of this decision.
During the conventional proceedings, the applicant company claimed that the sanctions imposed by the State Television and Radio Broadcasting Council violated her right to freedom of expression in violation of the requirements of Article 10 of the Convention.
ISSUES OF LAW
Concerning compliance with Article 10 of the Convention. The sanctions applied to the applicant company for the transmission of video recordings interfered with the freedom of the company to express its opinion, but the interference was "prescribed by law" and served as a legitimate aim to protect the rights and reputation of others, especially the law of A.S. to respect for his image, words and reputation.
Assessing whether the interference was "necessary in a democratic society", the European Court examined the report as a whole and agreed with the assessment of the domestic authorities that the subject matter of the report concerned issues of public interest. The Court noted that A.S. was a well-known political figure and, although the report was devoted to the actions of AS, and not to the general discussion of the issue of electronic gambling, it could be legally shown on television.
(a) The first video. The first recording was made in a public place, where anyone could take photographs or shoot a video. Consequently, the domestic authorities in their reasoning had to include in their assessment the factor that, entering the gaming center, A.S. could legitimately expect that his actions will be subjected to careful supervision and even recorded on the camera, especially given that A.S. was a public person. Thus, the domestic authorities failed to establish a reasonable proportion of proportionality between the measures that limited the applicant company's right to freedom of expression and the legitimate aim.
(b) Second and third video. Unlike the situation with the first video of A.S. was entitled to expect compliance with privacy for the second and third video recordings (when he went to private territory to discuss the recordings), as well as the fact that the negotiations will not be recorded without his express consent.
In the Court's view, the conclusion of the domestic authorities that the applicant company had gone beyond the bounds of responsible journalistic work was reasonable to the extent that it dealt with second and third videotapes. Distinguishing the present case from the Haldimann and Others v. Switzerland case (Judgment of February 24, 2015, complaint No. 21830/09), the Court noted that the applicant company had not taken any action, or attempts to provide compensation for interfering in the privacy of A.S. On the contrary, the actions of journalists actually made us assume that the Code of Journalistic Ethics and the Criminal Code were violated intentionally. The Court also made a distinction between the case of Radio Twist asv Slovakia (Judgment of 19 December 2006, complaint no. 62202/00) and this, because it was the employees the applicant companies, and not third parties, were responsible for using unlawful methods, in order to withdraw the fact of A.S. in gambling and his reaction to the first video. Thus, the reasons given by the Greek authorities were "relevant" and "sufficient" to justify the interference with the second and third video recordings.
In the case there was a violation of the requirements of Article 10 of the Convention (regarding the first video) (unanimously adopted).
The case did not violate the requirements of Article 10 of the Convention (regarding the second and third videotapes) (unanimously adopted).
The Court also found unanimously a violation of Article 6 of the Convention in respect of the length of the proceedings before the Supreme Administrative Court.
In application of Article 41 of the Convention, the Court awarded the applicant company EUR 7,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage, EUR 33,000 in respect of pecuniary damage, noting that the applicant company paid only EUR 100,000 from the fine of EUR 200,000.