A group of members of the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs released a statement on Friday. Congressmen, including both Democrats and Republicans, warned that the adoption of the amended media law in Poland would be in line with “a disturbing trend regarding independent media in Poland.” Politicians wrote that the amendment would hit the investment of “the American media company Discovery, which owns TVN24”.
Members of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, including its chairman Gregory Meeks (Democratic Party), issued a statement on a draft amendment to the media law, known as the lex anti-TVN. The authors of the statement include representatives of both Democrats and Republicans. These are the vice-chairman of the House of Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCaul (Republican Party), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, Environment and the Cybernetics Subcommittee Bill Keating (Democratic Party), vice-chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, Environment and the Cybernetics Subcommittee Brian Fitzpatrick (Party Republican), as well as members of the House of Representatives Gerald E. Connolly (Democratic Party) and Steve Chabot (Republican Party).
They pointed out that the law “would make it impossible for non-EU companies to control broadcasters in Poland”. “If the law is passed, it will mean that the media concern Discovery, the owner of TVN24, which is the largest independent news channel in the country, will be forced to leave the Polish market. Unfortunately, this fact fits in the disturbing trend concerning independent media in Poland, about which As evidenced by the country’s decline in the most recent World Press Freedom Index ranking to its lowest so far, 62nd after five consecutive years of deterioration, Congressmen said in a statement.
They recalled that since “the Solidarity movement pushed Poland on the path of transition from communist dictatorship to liberal democracy, strong, stable and cross-party support for Polish-American relations was based on joint commitment to democratic principles and the fundamental rights of all our citizens.” “Therefore, we express growing concern about the ongoing attacks on the free press, independent judiciary and the rule of law in Poland,” he added.
It was noted that “Congress will closely monitor the fate of the new media law and the issue of the renewal of TVN’s licenses, and encourages the Polish government to ensure that the situation of free and independent media, as well as US investment in Poland, is secured.”
On Wednesday the Republican and Democratic US senators issued a joint statement on the amendment to the media law called lex TVN entitled “The bipartisan group of senators warns the Polish government against introducing a law that targets free media and jeopardizes American investments”.
The lex anti-TVN project
On July 7, a group of Law and Justice deputies submitted to the Sejm a draft amendment to the Broadcasting Act. “The will of the legislator is that companies based in Poland cannot be controlled by entities outside the European Economic Area” – it was written in the justification. Commentators agree that the changes are aimed at TVN’s independence. TVN24 is still waiting for the National Broadcasting Council to extend its license, which expires on September 26. An application for its extension was submitted in February 2020. KRRiT claims that the problem lies in the “ownership situation” of the TVN group.
The station’s management wrote in a statement that in 2015 the National Broadcasting Council accepted the entry of American capital into TVN. Since 2016 – under the same ownership conditions – KRRiT has already issued licenses for TVN24 BiS, TTV and TVN International West. On the license for TVN24 took place On July 22, two votes at the National Broadcasting Council. However, no decisions were made.
The Parliamentary Culture and Media Committee adopted while on July 27, a draft amendment to the media law with amendments and sent it for further work.
TVN is owned by Discovery through its subsidiary Polish Television Holding BV in the Netherlands, and thus belonging to the European Economic Area.
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