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Media in joint protest. “There is another opponent we must face”

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The appeal sounds dramatic, but the matter is exceptionally serious. “Politicians! Don't kill Polish media!” – these are the headlines in newspapers, on portals, and can be heard and seen on the radio and television. The problem is that global technology giants take over content created by journalists with impunity and free of charge. They earn a fortune and transfer the profits abroad.

The media – both large and local – have fought together for freedom of speech more than once. Now they have come together in a joint protest.

– There is another opponent that we have to face. These are large Internet corporations that earn money from our content – emphasizes Bartosz Wieliński, deputy editor-in-chief of “Gazeta Wyborcza”. 70 percent of online advertising is sold by technology giants. – Editorial offices are getting poorer, they have no money to run editorial offices and they have no way to pay journalists. Therefore, the threat is that in a few years this information will simply not exist – warns Andrzej Andrysiak, publisher of “Gazeta Radomszczańska”.

– A huge part of these profits (from advertising – editor's note) goes to intermediaries. We are dealing with a distorted competition on the market – emphasizes Sylwia Czubkowska, a journalist at TOK FM and co-author of the “Techstorie” podcast.

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In the appeal, Polish media point out that technology giants “use the content we create with impunity and free of charge, and transfer the profits abroad” and appeal to politicians to support Polish media in this battle, which guards democracy and freedom.

“Our demands were not listened to at all”

Local, small portals have learned what dependence on large corporations can look like. – Some publishers have such problems. For example, one published a photo on Facebook about a protest and it was blocked a moment later (his account – editor's note) – says Andrzej Andrysiak. Google Poland, in response to the media appeal, explains that over three years it has paid the five largest Polish publishers an amount of over one billion złoty and assures that it complies with the EU directive on copyright. Poland has not adopted this directive yet. However, the Sejm has passed the act on copyright.

READ ALSO: They published a post, then immediately disappeared from Facebook. “It's a wagging finger”

Protest of over 350 editorial offices regarding copyright. “Politicians do not understand that without money there will be no media”Martyna Olkowicz/Fakty po Południe TVN24

– Our demands were not listened to at all. They were not taken into account at all – Bartosz Wieliński points out. – We have already submitted an amendment to the Sejm protecting the interests of the media in the clash with the digital giants. Unfortunately, this amendment was lost – emphasizes the Left MP Dorota Olko. Now the bill has gone to the Senate. The Left announces that it will submit its amendment again. – Inclusion of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection as a mediator, and ultimately as a regulator – reminds the vice-marshal of the Senate from the Left Magdalena Biejat.

What are the media demanding?

The idea is for the media to have state arbitration assistance when negotiating agreements for the use of their content by Google and Facebook. They are demanding such changes to the act. – They will enable us to negotiate fairly with companies such as Google and Facebook, the division of profits from the money they receive and which they receive thanks to the fact that we create content. Without our content, they would not earn this money – says Bartosz Węglarczyk, editor-in-chief of the portal onet.pl and member of the Polish Media Council. The government's position is that the matter is to be resolved comprehensively and negotiations will take place in the autumn. – There will be a new act, a broader one, which will be jointly developed – announces the Marshal of the Senate from the Civic Coalition Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska.

– Politicians should finally start to take an interest and understand what kind of world we are operating in. These are simply different mechanisms for distributing money in the world – says Sylwia Czubkowska.

The Senate will take up the bill on July 9, but not everyone was impressed by the media appeal. – We will be a backwater of digital communication, so I would encourage a reasonable conversation, and not such demagogic shouting of arguments – says Waldemar Pawlak, a senator from the Senate Third Way club, about the media protest.

Some senators, after reading the appeal, sided with the media. – We need to support the smaller, weaker ones, but those who guarantee Polish citizens reliable information – says Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, senator of the Civic Coalition. The matter is complicated, it has a global reach, because it is not only the Polish media that are fighting Google and Facebook. Legal disputes are ongoing in many countries.

Main image source: TVN24

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