Poland Liquidates State Broadcasters

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Poland Liquidates State Broadcasters

Poland has put its public broadcasters, Polskie Radio and Telewizja Polska (TVP), in liquidation as part of a political struggle between the country’s new centrist government and its conservative president.

Although these entities are officially apolitical under Polish law, concerns about political interference have been raised since the conservative Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS) party and President Andrzej Duda took power in 2015. The PiS-led government had previously appointed senior management directly at the broadcasters, which drew caution from the European Broadcasting Union. With the new centrist governing coalition gaining control of the Sejm and Senate, the issue of media neutrality and control has become a central concern.

As a result, Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s government has passed a resolution calling for the restoration of the “impartiality and reliability of the public media.” This has led to the removal of chairs and boards of the public broadcasters, causing dissent among PiS officials and resulting in President Duda vetoing the government’s spending bill intended for public broadcasting.

In response, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage announced the liquidation of Polskie Radio, TVP, and the news agency Polska Agencja Prasowa. The European Broadcasting Union has expressed its support for strong safeguards for independent public service media but is closely monitoring the situation in Poland.

Poland Puts Public Broadcasters in Liquidation

Background on Polish Public Broadcasting

Poland’s public broadcasting system is comprised of Polskie Radio and Telewizja Polska (TVP), both of which are apolitical public-service entities. However, concerns about political interference have arisen since the conservative Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS) party and President Andrzej Duda came into power in 2015. At that time, the PiS-led government appointed senior management at the broadcasters, leading to caution from the European Broadcasting Union.

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Concerns about political interference

The appointment of senior management at Polskie Radio and TVP by the PiS-led government raised concerns about political interference. This move drew caution from the European Broadcasting Union, which highlighted the importance of media neutrality and independence.

Poland Liquidates State Broadcasters

Media neutrality and control in question

With the new centrist governing coalition led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk gaining control of the Sejm and Senate, the issue of media neutrality and control has become a central topic. Media independence and the protection of journalists have become paramount, as they are crucial for the functioning of a democratic society and the promotion of inclusive public debate.

Calls for independence of public-service broadcasters

Media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) has called on Prime Minister Tusk’s government to ensure the independence of public-service broadcasters. RSF has urged the government to seize the opportunity to implement systemic measures that protect media independence and journalists, resulting from an inclusive public debate.

Poland Liquidates State Broadcasters

Resolution for restoration of impartiality and reliability

On December 20, the Tusk government passed a resolution aimed at restoring the impartiality and reliability of public media. This resolution reflects the government’s commitment to address the concerns of political interference and to ensure that public-service broadcasters operate with fairness and credibility.

Removal of chairs and boards

As part of the efforts to restore impartiality, the chairs and boards of Polskie Radio, TVP, and Polska Agencja Prasowa were removed. These individuals were seen as being too close to the PiS party, raising questions about their neutrality and independence.

Sit-in at TVP headquarters

The removal of the chairs and boards sparked a sit-in at TVP headquarters by PiS officials, including former Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. They claimed that the actions taken by the new government diminished media pluralism, further highlighting the ongoing political struggle over press freedom.

President Duda’s veto of spending bill

President Duda recently announced his veto of Prime Minister Tusk’s government’s spending bill, which included funds for overhauling public broadcasting. The veto has added further turmoil to the already tense situation, raising concerns about the future of public-service media in Poland.

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Announcement of liquidation

In response to President Duda’s veto, Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz announced that Polskie Radio, TVP, and Polska Agencja Prasowa will be placed into liquidation. Sienkiewicz stated that this action is necessary to ensure the continuation of these companies, carry out the necessary restructuring, and prevent layoffs of employees.

EBU statement on the situation

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has been closely monitoring the situation in Poland. The EBU emphasizes the importance of independent and well-funded public service media, as outlined in internationally agreed standards such as those from the Council of Europe and the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA). The EBU stands ready to support Poland in maintaining these standards and ensuring the continued operation of public-service broadcasters.

In conclusion, the liquidation of public broadcasters in Poland is a result of the ongoing political struggle over press freedom. Concerns about political interference and the need for media neutrality and control have led to calls for independence and restoration of impartiality.

The removal of chairs and boards, the sit-in at TVP headquarters, and the veto of the spending bill have further exacerbated the situation. The EBU’s statement emphasizes the importance of independent and well-funded public service media, providing a framework for resolving the current crisis.

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