Status: 17.12.2021 7:29 p.m.
The Polish parliament has passed a law officially protecting Poland’s media landscape. Critics see it as an attempt to silence a station critical of the government.
Poland’s parliament has passed a controversial new broadcasting law. The government believes that the new regulation is intended to protect the Polish media landscape from hostile actors. However, critics see it as an attempt to silence the US news channel TVN24, which is critical of the government.
The law would prohibit companies outside Europe from owning more than 49 percent of Polish media companies. This would force the TVN24 parent company “Discovery” to sell the majority of its shares in the station.
Senate against the law
The opposition-dominated Senate, the second chamber of parliament, spoke out against the law in September. However, a majority of the MPs in the Sejm, the first chamber of Parliament, overruled this vote.
Decision now with President Duda
The decision on the law now rests with President Andrzej Duda. This had indicated that he could stop the law by veto. The law stipulates that in future broadcasting licenses in Poland may only be issued to foreigners if they “have their headquarters or their place of residence in the European Economic Area”. In addition, the condition applies that the licensee must not be dependent on someone who has headquarters or residence outside of this economic area.
USA disappointed with parliamentary decision
The US reacted disappointed to the passage of the law. Chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Warsaw, Bix Aliu, wrote on Twitter: “We expect that President Duda will act on his earlier statements and use his leadership role to protect the free speech and entrepreneurship.”
The TVN24 parent company “Discovery” also sharply condemned the decision. “The result of today’s surprising vote in the Polish parliament should alarm every company investing in Poland and everyone who cares about democracy and freedom of the press.” In doing so, Parliament is undermining “values that Poland have connected with Europe”.
TVN24 spoke in a statement of an unprecedented attack on the free media. Parliament’s action is directed against Poland’s largest and most important ally, the United States.
Poland: Sejm approves surprisingly controversial media law
Jan Pallokat, ARD Warsaw, 17.12.2021 · 19:14