TVN24 is still waiting for the license extension by the National Broadcasting Council. There is a draft of the so-called anti-TVN law in the Sejm. In this case, a statement was issued by a group of organizations defending freedom of speech and journalistic independence. “Top officials in Washington must clearly emphasize that the adoption of this law will attack independent media as well as American investments in Poland and would seriously harm Polish-American relations and cooperation in many areas,” it was written.
TVN24 is still waiting for the National Broadcasting Council to extend its license, which expires on September 26. The application for its extension was submitted 18 months ago. KRRiT claims that the problem lies in the “ownership situation” of the TVN group. Meanwhile, a group of Law and Justice MPs on July 7, she 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.
Lawyers, politicians, business representatives and journalists and their organizations relate to various aspects of this case. Voices are flowing not only from Poland, but also from beyond its borders, including the United States and the European Union.
Tvn24.pl report: DRAFT ANTI-TVN ACT AND A CONCESSION FOR TVN24 AND TVN
On Friday, the website of the International Press Institute (IPI) published a statement coordinated by Media Freedom Rapid Response – a coalition of non-governmental organizations monitoring violations of media freedom in European Union countries. As highlighted by the IPI, “a leading press freedom group has condemned politically motivated efforts to silence a critical broadcaster.”
Lex anti-TVN statement: part of PiS’s systematic efforts to weaken independent journalism
“Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) today urges the European Union and the United States to take swift and decisive action to defend media freedom in Poland and counteract a serious attack on the independence of the country’s largest private television station, TVN, by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) “- we read in the statement.
“Our organizations believe that the so-called ‘lex TVN’ and the ongoing stalemate over the renewal of the license for the TVN24 24-hour news channel are part of PiS’s increasingly systematic efforts to weaken critical, independent journalism,” it wrote. It was judged that “it is obvious that this act is aimed directly at the ownership structure of TVN and TVN24 owned by the United States (Discovery – ed.), Which broadcast the most-watched news program in the country ‘Fakty’ and have long held a critical position towards PiS” .
When mentioning the most-watched news program in the country, the Nielsen Audience Measurement data, developed by the Virtual Media portal and published at the beginning of July, was referred to.
TVN is owned by Discovery, through a subsidiary of Polish Television Holding BV in the Netherlands, and thus belonging to the European Economic Area. “Since American Discovery owns 100 percent of TVN through a company registered in the Netherlands, it would have to sell 51 percent of its shares worth $ 1 billion to comply with the new regulations,” it noted.
It said it “would open the door for state investors to buy shares by muzzling the most influential, critical broadcaster in the country, thereby increasing the government’s level of control over the media market.”
It was also recalled that a similar process took place during the purchase of the Polska Press publishing house by PKN Orlen. This resulted in the dismissal of a number of editors-in-chief.
Request to send “clear signal”
“We are increasingly concerned that despite warnings from US State Department officials and leading EU officials, the PiS leadership seems determined to implement its plans,” it continued.
It was also recalled that on July 27 the bill on this matter was adopted by the parliamentary committee on culture and media, which opened the door to voting in the Sejm in mid-August.
“Given the speed with which PiS passes the bill through parliament, diplomatic efforts should immediately be intensified to send a clear signal to the ruling party that the European Union and the US are serious about defending independent journalism in Poland,” it was written.
The statement said that “top officials in Washington must make it clear that passing this law will attack independent media as well as US investment in Poland and will seriously harm Polish-US relations and cooperation in many areas.”
Appeal to MPs regarding lex TVN
The statement also noted the delay of the National Broadcasting Council in renewing the license for TVN24.
“Taking into account PiS’s long-standing hostility towards TVN and the fact that the broadcaster had no problems with renewing the license to several other TVN channels, any decision of the government-dominated KRRiT to reject the extension of the TVN24 license at the present time should be considered deeply discriminatory and politically motivated” – assessed . It was mentioned that since 2016 – under the same ownership conditions – KRRiT has already issued licenses for TVN24 BiS, TTV and TVN International West.
According to those signed under the statement, “the European Commission should immediately consider initiating proceedings against Poland for infringement of EU regulations regarding the fair and non-discriminatory allocation of broadcasting licenses”.
“Our organizations appeal to Polish deputies, especially the coalition parties in the United Right, to vote against this bill during the next meeting” – summarized.
Finally, it was noted that open letter with journalists’ appeal in defense of TVN it is an “important initiative”. It added that it is important that “journalists from the entire spectrum of media in Poland sign and speak with one voice”. “The political attack on one medium should be countered as an attack on all the others. Ultimately, if TVN may fall victim to PiS, then no media is safe” – it was noted. “Time is running out” – added.
The following organizations signed the statement:
Article 19 (British Freedom of Speech NGO) Committee for the Protection of Journalists European Press and Media Freedom Center (ECPMF) European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) Free Press Unlimited (FPU) International Press Institute (IPI) Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT) Reporters without Border (RSF)
Main photo source: Sebastian Gora Photo / Shutterstock