By HRC Correspondent, 21 October 2011
Centro Europa 7 S.R.L. is an Italian broadcasting company based in Rome, who together with their statutory representative Francescantonio Di Stefano, have brought a case against the Italian government regarding its inability to broadcast despite having a broadcasting licence, due to the lack of television frequencies allocated to it.
In 1999, Centro Europa was allocated a licence for national TV broadcasting by the Italian authorities, allowing it to set up and use a TV network. However, the licence referred to a national frequency allocation plan, which had been set up in 1998 and never actually implemented. This meant that, due to a series of interim legislative schemes, existing TV channels had been able to extend their use of frequencies that they should in principle have given up. As a result of this oversight, Centro Europa had no frequency attributed to it and was unable to broadcast.
The applicants lodged their case with the Court on 16 July 2009, but the Chamber to which the case had been allocated relinquished its jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber. Their case is centred on the fact that Europa claim to have been subjected to an unjustified breach of their right to impart information, which is a violation of their freedom of expression as set out by Article 10. They also claim to have suffered discrimination under Article 14 as well as being denied the right to a fair hearing under Article 6:1. Centro Europa also maintain that the licence that they were granted in 1999 constituted a “pecuniary interest”, which warranted the protection of property. They are challenging this under Article 1 of Protocol No.1.
In addition to the evidence brought by Centro Europa, the organisation Open Society Justice Initiative were permitted to submit written comments as a third party. This organisation is one of George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, which uses law to protect and empower people around the world. Using litigation, advocacy, research, and technical assistance, the Justice Initiative promotes human rights and builds legal capacity for open societies.