Living scripts

At last, at last, the serial is reaching an end – but not without some last minute, uncanny, developments. Let us remember. For years, publicly, notoriously, openly, patently, the cable TV concession contract was not respected and the government, one of the signatories, turned a blind eye to it. Why was it so? Enter the knights of free TV. We could call them the ‘antennae independent operators’, for want of better description. (The Portuguese nickname could actually be appropriated here. Maybe we could craft a similar name in English, such as the ‘antennists’?). Never mind: bent on bringing world TV to the masses (or was it the other way round?) they insisted on violating the concession contract. (And, possibly, just possibly, other laws. Copyright legislation, for instance, springs to mind…). Actually, for all practical purposes the contract was never complied with throughout its duration, which must have set a record somewhere. The concessionaire kept complaining. Then, some years ago, the government body responsible for the sector tried to do something about the patent violation of contract and laws and issued an ultimatum to the illegal operators, setting them a deadline to cease operations. Mayhem in the sector, threats of social instability, a menace to TV democracy, God knows what! Higher powers intervene and so let’s go man man, let them negotiate and reach an agreement – and the issue duly subsided. Next chapter: the company, unable to operate normally, is sold (on the cheap, some would say) to one of the illegal operators – no, you did not see this coming! And the owner does what? Sues the government for not enforcing the contract and asks for an indemnity (no, sorry, this one was so, so foreseeable). Ironies of life, not without a pinch of humour, we could be excused for thinking in hindsight. In court, the company claimed losses of 238 million patacas and was awarded 200 million. Not bad, one would think. Illegal actions, tolerated for about two decades render a company unprofitable; one of the offenders buys it at a fire sale price, and then, as the new owner of the company, finally gets indemnified in court for the losses. (Is it possible that this is what some had in mind when claiming that here the rule of law prevails?) Well, surprisingly, that was not the end of it; someone was not happy. To defend the public interest, we have to suppose, the government appeals the sentence invoking that the 38 million patacas-indemnity reduction it got was not properly justified…! Let us try to understand the underlying reasoning. It must be something like this: OK, we lost; we knew we would. But you gave us a ‘discount’ we cannot understand; therefore, the process should be void and, consequently, we should pay nothing! Or something even stranger, one gets confused here. The appeal failed. The court could not understand the argument, either. The End. Ideas for a script for a TV serial, anyone?