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Maciej Świrski, head of the National Broadcasting Council, fines for TVN24 and TOK FM. Former members of the National Broadcasting Council about Świrski's decisions

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Enforcing fines imposed on TVN24 and TOK FM before the decision of the second-instance court is clearly an expression of bad will – said Krzysztof Luft, former member of the National Broadcasting Council. As he added, the current head of the Council, Maciej Świrski, is an “ideological fundamentalist”. According to Juliusz Braun, former head of the National Broadcasting Council, “Chairman Świrski exceeds his competences in both cases.”

On Wednesday, the National Broadcasting Council announced that PLN 550,000 collected from TVN by the Tax Office had been transferred to its account. The penalty was imposed by the National Broadcasting Council in connection with an alleged violation of regulations by broadcasting the reportage “Bielmo. Franciszkańska 3” (“Black on White”), about sexual crimes in the Catholic Church and Karol Wojtyła's knowledge about it.

The money was collected despite the station filing an appeal against the decision of the chairman of the National Broadcasting Council, Maciej Świrski, on March 6 to impose a fine, which was publicly announced on April 12.

READ: Penalty of the chairman of the National Broadcasting Council for “Franciszkańska 3”. Editorial statement

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The head of the National Broadcasting Council recently made a similar decision to “submit a budget receivable in the form of a penalty” in the amount of PLN 88,000 from TOK FM radio for collection by the Tax Office. Świrski imposed a fine on TOK FM at the end of January for the content of five programs, justifying that they included “expressions that insulted, degraded and violated the dignity of the most important people in the state, including the President of the Republic of Poland.”

READ: The chairman of the National Broadcasting Council wants the tax office to collect a fine from the TOK FM broadcaster. Eurozet: there is no legal justification

Świrski “exceeds his competences”

Wirtualne Media talked to Juliusz Braun, former head of the National Broadcasting Council and former president of TVP, about the issue of fines for TVN24 and TOK FM.

– In my opinion, Chairman Świrski exceeds his competences in both cases. Especially in the case of a report on TVN24, the case could possibly be the subject of court proceedings, rather than an administrative decision of the chairman of the National Broadcasting Council, he said.

Braun added that “the enforcement of the penalty imposed by the Tax Office is simply strange when the decision is not final.” – The fines imposed on TVN24 and TOK FM were to be considered by the court as a result of the broadcasters' appeal and it was necessary to wait for its decisions – said the former head of the National Broadcasting Council.

– Świrski refuses to transfer the license fee to public media, explaining that the decision to enter new company authorities in the National Court Register is still not final and we need to wait for its finality. The same circumstance does not prevent him from collecting money from penalized senders himself, without waiting for the decision on the penalty to become final. There is no logic in his actions, he pointed out.

Braun on the “chilling effect”

He added that “the action of the chairman of the National Broadcasting Council may have a chilling effect on the media market, especially towards smaller entities.” – For such large broadcasters, similar amounts are not a big problem, but let's imagine that TVN or TOK FM was replaced by, for example, a small local private radio station. If he receives a penalty and the money is collected before a final decision is made, the financial liquidity of such a radio station will be in doubt, he noted.

Maciej ŚwirskiRadek Pietruszka/PAP

“Mr. Świrski is an ideological fundamentalist”

Krzysztof Luft, former member of the National Broadcasting Council, also commented on this matter in an interview with the Wirtualne Media portal. – When I was a member of the Council, such situations never occurred. When the penalty was imposed, and in response to it, an appeal was filed to the court with a request to suspend its execution, we waited for the court's decision – he emphasized.

In his opinion, “Mr. Świrski is an ideological fundamentalist and believes that all media should present the world in accordance with his radical worldview.”

– He also uses his position for this purpose, although he has absolutely no right to do so. Collecting fines is clearly an expression of bad will. If there is an appeal against the decision of the National Broadcasting Council along with an application to suspend the execution of the penalty, this application may soon be positively considered by the court and the execution of the penalty will be suspended. The chairman knows this very well, and yet he does not wait to collect the money, Luft added.

Initiation of execution “legally groundless”

Wirtualne Media asked legal advisor Marta Kupczak-Strzelecka from the Sołtysiński Kawecki & Szlęzak law firm for a legal comment on the penalties imposed by Świrski.

– In my opinion, initiating enforcement proceedings against the broadcaster who appealed against the decision of the KRRIT chairman imposing a penalty on him under the Broadcasting Act is legally groundless. This results both from the established jurisprudence of the courts that hear appeals against the decisions of the KRRIT chairman, and from the position of the doctrine, she said.

She explained, using the example of one of the TOK FM cases, that “if an appeal is filed against a decision that does not contain immediate enforceability, the mere filing of an appeal suspends the execution of the decision.”

– The decision becomes final and the obligation to pay a fine (if upheld) may arise only after the case is examined by the court in the first and second instances – she emphasized.

Virtual Media, tvn24.pl

Main photo source: Radek Pietruszka/PAP



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