It may be seen as another episode in the stormy relationship between the Portuguese National Communications Authority (ANACOM) and MEO, an Altice subsidiary. And this time it involves the SAPO webportal.
In an editorial published this Tuesday, SAPO Head of information Mário Carneiro accuses the communications regulator of “opacity”. According to the article, which is highlighted on the homepage of the content portal owned by Altice, ANACOM “does not provide consultation of the public tender process”
The journalist uses the word “polemic” to describe the “erratic course of the 5G auction under the aegis of ANACOM”: “Last week, several articles reported the potential legal imbroglio in which the Authority was entangled”, he justifies. This “imbroglio” has to do with a decision by Porto’s Administrative and Fiscal Court, released last Friday, and which could jeopardise the entire process. According to digital newspaper ECO, what is at stake is the exclusion of ANO – Sistemas de informática e Serviços from the public tender launched by ANACOM to choose the company that would develop the auction platform. ANO did not agree with the exclusion and filed a lawsuit in court. In the first instance, ANACOM was condemned “to admit the due administrative acts regarding the legal position” of ANO in this public tender. But ANACOM decided to continue the auction and appealed the decision. According to the same digital newspaper, ANACOM says that the ruling, despite everything, will not affect the sale of the licences: “The current 5G auction was promoted to fulfil the public interest inherent to it, and therefore Anacom will ensure, based on the legal framework in force, the completion of the same – hence the current litigation process will not affect the processing and outcome of the auction procedure”
However, Carneiro considers that the cancellation of the tender is “expected” and the entire process concerning the fifth mobile generation “may be compromised”, implying “certainly compensations to all operators that have already bought frequencies in the initial phase”, as well as “increasing the chorus of protests in relation to ANACOM’s way of conducting the entire process”. In addition, the development of a new platform (the basis of the public tender itself) may take weeks or months, with the resulting delay for a path that is already long and slow”, the Director notes.
Before being a portal belonging to the Altice group, SAPO is a media organization registered with the Portuguese Regulatory Authority for Social Communication, thus enjoying all the liberties and guarantees given by the law. And it is this situation that Mário Carneiro has denounced, with the portal asking for access to “the documentation that is part of the tender, namely the proposals presented, the report that evaluated them and the criteria that led to the exclusion of a proposal that the court has now readmitted” since last Wednesday. The journalist even says that ANACOM “has postponed a response” through “various expedients” and that the portal will follow “naturally through the legal channels provided”: “The incidences […] should worry ANACOM but not so much that they prevent it from transparently allowing journalists to consult the initial phases of this whole process, otherwise there will be a notion that they are trying to hide the existence of some kind of gross error in the tender which will have been the “original sin” of the whole process”, Carneiro said, adding that this “appearance” could be “easily refuted” if “consultation of the documentation of a public process” were allowed.