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Adam Bodnar: Minister Sienkiewicz had legal grounds for changes made in the public media

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The resolution of the Sejm in connection with the provisions of the Commercial Companies Code provides the basis for such action, which was taken by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz in the context of the functioning of public media – said the Minister of Justice, Adam Bodnar, on Friday.

On Friday, a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Human Rights was convened at the request of a group of MPs, during which the Minister of Justice, Adam Bodnar, presented information on the dismissal of the governing bodies of the companies Telewizja Polska SA, Polska Agencja Prasowa SA, Polskie Radio SA and putting them into liquidation.

Adam Bodnar during a meeting of the Sejm Committee on Justice and Human Rights in the Sejm in WarsawPAP/Piotr Nowak

As Zbigniew Bogucki, representing the applicants, assessed (PIS), a similar situation in the Polish media “has not occurred since the communists turned off television signals.” – You repeated it, unfortunately. You are part of the worst possible story. We would like to hear from the Minister what is the reaction to the illegal actions of Mr. (Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bartłomiej – ed.) Sienkiewicz when it comes to public media, changes in the management boards and supervisory boards of public media. Have you, as the Minister of Justice, but also as the Prosecutor General, taken any action in this regard? – He asked.

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Responding to the doubts of parliamentarians, Bodnar pointed out that “in 2023, after the elections, we encountered a situation in which public media were affected by extreme politicization.”

As he said, “during these seven years there was no will to change the public media.” – Moreover, this situation in the public media has, I would say, deepened when it comes to the one-sided use of public media to spread party messages. A message in favor of only one side of the political scene – added the head of the Ministry of Justice.

Read also: Adam Bodnar announced a competition for the position of national prosecutor

– I think that what was quite dramatic from the point of view of the quality of functioning of the Polish state were, among others, reports from… elections presidential reports OSCEwhere it was clearly indicated that these elections could have been disturbed due to the support of one candidate, Mr. President Andrzej Duda – he continued.

Bodnar: Minister Sienkiewicz had the authority to change the public media

The Minister of Justice emphasized that the resolution of the Sejm “in connection with the provisions of the Commercial Companies Code provides grounds for the action taken by Minister Sienkiewicz.” – I am aware that the Sejm resolution is not of a normative nature, it is declaratory. However, I believe that the resolution of the Sejm, combined with the ownership rights of the Minister for Culture and National Heritage, gives the right to take specific actions in the context of the functioning of public media – he said.

Adam BodnarPiotr Nowak/PAP

Bodnar informed that the District Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw is conducting proceedings regarding the events at TVP and TVP Info at Pl. Warsaw insurgents. – There is also an ongoing proceeding at the District Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw regarding the abuse of powers by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage (…) and there is also information about the presentation of charges against a notary. I try to carry out my tasks as Attorney General in such a way as not to interfere in what is happening in criminal cases, because I believe that the Attorney General should be as far away from criminal cases as possible. This is what the independence of the prosecutor’s office should be, so that prosecutors can make decisions on their own in these cases, he concluded.

Answering the MPs’ questions, the head of the Ministry of Justice emphasized, among other things, that “the functioning of the public media should be restored so that they serve the society and so that the interests of society, which were reflected in the Sejm resolution of December, are realized.” He also recalled that “going into liquidation is one thing and permanent liquidation is another.” Bodnar declared to provide detailed answers to questions regarding public media in writing.

Changes in public media

On December 19 last year, the Sejm adopted a resolution “on the restoration of legal order and the impartiality and reliability of the public media and the Polish Press Agency”, calling on the State Treasury to take corrective actions. A day later, the Ministry of Culture announced that the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz, as the body exercising the ownership rights of the State Treasury, acting on the basis of the provisions of the Commercial Companies Code, dismissed on December 19, 2023 the current presidents of the Management Boards of Telewizja Polska SA, Polskie Radio SA and Polish Press Agency SA and the Supervisory Board. The Minister appointed new Supervisory Boards of the above-mentioned companies. Companies that have appointed new Company Management Boards.

On December 23, 2023, President Duda announced that he had vetoed the budget law prepared by the new government, which provided, among other things, funds for public media for the next year. As the president justified, his decision was related to a “gross violation of the constitution and the principles of a democratic state of law” in the public media.

Changes in public mediaAlbert Zawada/PAP

After the presidential veto, the head of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage decided on December 27, 2023 to put TVP, Polskie Radio and PAP into liquidation. The state of liquidation may be withdrawn at any time by the owner – stated in the announcement of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. A similar decision was made by the Minister of Culture on December 29, 2023 in relation to 17 companies of the Polish Radio’s regional broadcasting companies.

Read also: Public media in liquidation. What are the powers of their liquidators?

January 18 this year Constitutional Court stated that the provisions of the Commercial Companies Code (CCC) on the dissolution and liquidation of a joint-stock company, understood in such a way that their regulatory scope by virtue of the Act itself also covers public radio and television broadcasting entities, are unconstitutional. Moreover, the Constitutional Tribunal assessed that the provision of the Broadcasting Act excluding certain provisions of the Commercial Companies Code from applying to public radio and television broadcasting entities is unconstitutional. The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage announced that the Constitutional Tribunal’s judgment regarding public radio and television broadcasting entities has no legal significance.

Main photo source: PAP/Piotr Nowak



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