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Freedom House report on the situation of the media. It also applies to Poland

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Independent media may survive, but it’s not a level playing field. This is a kind of financial suffocation – this is how the American organization Freedom House wrote about the Polish market. “Since 2015, Jarosław Kaczyński’s PiS has exerted economic, legal, regulatory and political pressure to destabilize the media considered to be against them and change the landscape in its favor,” the study added.

The American organization Freedom House analyzed the situation of the media in six countries: EstoniaFrance, GermanyHungary, Italy and Poland. The ability of independent news media to sustain themselves financially, reach different audiences and play the role of guardian of democracy was tested.

With regard to Poland, it was written: “Independent media can survive, but this is not a game on a level playing field. It is rather a steep slope. It is a form of financial suffocation.”

The Freedom House study also stated that “Polish media remains more resilient than Hungarian media. However, since 2015, the populist and conservative party Law and Justice (PiS) of Jarosław Kaczyński exerts economic, legal, regulatory and political pressure to destabilize media considered to be against them and change the landscape in its favour.

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It also said that “the party has removed dissenting voices from public broadcasters and used state-controlled companies to take over press distribution networks and regional media and to target entities supporting the PiS government. In its efforts to ‘re-Polonize’, PiS targeted ownership of the media and doubled the pressure on the private TV station TVN and its news channel TVN24, which is often critical of the government.”

“We see a series of legal, economic and other pressures on the media”

“We are seeing a series of legal, economic and other pressures on the media that go hand in hand with the ruling party’s re-Polonization efforts,” Jessica White of Freedom House told TVN24 BiS.

– We see this quite clearly in the case of the recent ownership act against foreign entities. The law was eventually withdrawn. However, we are talking here about the fact that specific actions are taken against TVN. This law was intended to put pressure on foreign owners, she said.

At the end of December 2021 Andrzej Duda vetoed the so-called TVN lex. As the president said, “undoubtedly, we are dealing with an interference with existing rights, the amendment to the media act concerns an entity that carries out its economic activities within the framework of economic freedom, under the Polish constitution in a fully legal manner.”

Earlier, in connection with the adoption by the Sejm of a law affecting TVN, demonstrations in defense of TVN and other free media took place in many Polish cities. “The protests are aimed at protecting media freedom in a European Union country where democratic standards are eroding,” the Washington Post commented at the time. “Conscious undermining of alliances” – this is how the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” titled his article about the situation in Poland.

Read also: Protests in Polish cities. “We deserve a free media”

Acquisition of Polska Press

Freedom House points out that defending independent media – the cornerstone of democracy – requires creative solutions. “The stakes are particularly high on Hungary and in Poland, where political interference through media hijacking and other legal and institutional maneuvers have become a sign of the collapse of democracy.

The report also reminded that in 2020, the state-controlled oil company Orlen bought from German owners Polska Press, which publishes leading regional newspapers, magazines and hundreds of Internet portals. “Editorial changes followed shortly thereafter,” it noted.

Watch on TVN24 GO: New Orders in Polska Press. “The conversation lasted probably three minutes”

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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