In an interview with Lusa, questioned about the hiring of Media Capital, Poiares Maduro said that the issue raises “concern” regarding “companies [que] they were asking the State for financial support, saying that they did not have conditions of minimum sustainability and then, suddenly, they were able to find financial capacity to make millionaire contracts “.
Media Capital, owner of TVI, had the production company Plural in a ‘lay-off’ and will receive 3.3 million euros in connection with the advance purchase of institutional advertising.
“If we are scandalized that banks are receiving public support or that companies that are owned by the State, as happened at TAP, after giving bonuses to their administrators even when they present losses, we cannot help but worry when companies, even though indirect – I understand that the mechanism chosen by the Government made this control difficult because it is not a subsidy, it is an advance purchase of advertising “, they receive support, he said.
“Naturally, we can say that companies should be free to make their management decisions, with the risk that this entails, and that they are or are not rewarded by the market, according to that”, but “what they can’t do is want to request public support precisely because they say they don’t have sustainability, in a market logic, but then claim their totally private status and the market logic to make decisions that, whether we like it or not, are risky decisions “, he argued.
The former minister of media protection of the Passos Coelho government stressed that “when public financial means are still involved indirectly”, there should be “a great scrutiny concern and these companies should be required to exercise caution, that were consistent with what they themselves were saying: that the market does not ensure sustainability for our activity “.
Asked to comment if he considers that the Regulatory Entity for Social Communication (ERC) – which on July 17 announced that it was analyzing the changes in the shareholder structure of TVI – should have already communicated its analysis on the matter, Miguel Poiares Maduro said that the delay “is not just a problem for regulators in the area of social communication in Portugal”.
By the way, “we generally have a problem with our regulators”, considered, referring to the fact that it has been referring to “for a long time”.
“I think the main cause of our country’s poor development and low growth is the poor quality of our institutions. And among these, from a fundamental point of view, the weak training and independence of regulators in many circumstances, “which has to do with credibility, with authority, with the selection processes, with its rules of operation, with the critical mass that they manage to have and attract to the functioning of these activities “, he continued.
“I don’t really know how the ERC is doing at the moment, not even the means it has, but I deduce that, as in the case of other regulators, I remember the Competition Authority often also takes a lot of time”, he pointed out.
The ex-minister considered that “it is very important that transparency is guaranteed about who really owns the property, who is the one who later exercises control power within the company, whether or not it corresponds to the participation he has in the capital”.
The businessman Mário Ferreira bought in May 30.22% of Media Capital for 10.5 million euros.
Considering that measures to support the media are “urgent”, the university professor defended the need to invest in other important areas for the sector as well.
“This economic fragility makes the sector easily captured by moneys of more dubious origin or whose investment intention, whose intention behind the investment in the business that is not profitable in itself can lead us to doubt about the intentions of that investment” and this requires “strengthening transparency mechanisms”.
The law that regulates the transparency of ownership, management and means of financing the media came into force in October 2015, was Miguel Poiares Maduro minister with the tutelage of the media.
“We are one of the most developed countries at European level [na lei da transparência dos media], but we have to make that information more transparent, for example, on the ERC portal itself, which is not very transparent “, he considered.
The media regulator “has taken a long time, either in adopting the regulation, but ended up doing it, or later in the dissemination of that information, but it is an important step in that sense, not least because it includes not only ownership, but also dependence on level of advertising sources “, argued Miguel Poiares Maduro.
“If there are companies that have a particularly strong weight in the revenues of a media group or a newspaper through the volume of advertising they place there – companies or public institutions, it may be a city hall -, citizens should know why this is also a reason for suspicion that immediately occurs in relation to that media “, he pointed out.
Miguel Poiares Maduro continues to defend the existence of a single regulator for the media and telecommunications, instead of two different ones – ERC and Anacom – as currently happens.