“Echo Kieleckie”, “Nasze Miasto Gorzów” and the echodnia.eu portal – belonging to the Polska Press media group – refused to allow three candidates of the New Left and Third Way to publish election advertisements. Reason? As the publisher pointed out, the values presented by politicians of these groups “are incompatible with its program line.” – This is scandalous preventive censorship – says the candidate of the Senate Pact from Kielce, Henryk Milcarz.
Opposition candidates are deprived of the opportunity to publish their election announcements in the media of the Polska Press media group, owned by Orlen. These are local titles published in the Świętokrzyskie and Lubuskie voivodeships: “Echo Kieleckie”, “Nasze Miasto Gorzów” and the echodnia.eu portal.
Letters refusing to publish advertisements in these media were received by the leader of the Świętokrzyskie list of the New Left to the Sejm, MP Andrzej Szejna, the candidate of the Senate Pact in Kielce Henryk Milcarz, as well as the “number one” on the Third Way list in Gorzów Wielkopolski, Maja Nowak. Reason? “The publisher decided that left-wing values and the understanding of the Polish raison d’état presented by representatives of the Left, to which the Electoral Committee commissioned the election announcement, are incompatible with its program line,” we read in a letter from Anna Zapert, a representative of the management board of Polska Press.
Politicians of Poland 2050 received a similar letter Szymon Hołownia in the Lubusz Voivodeship. We sent a request to the Polska Press press office to present the publisher’s program line – until the publication of this article, we have not received a response.
The provision referred to by Anna Zapert concerns paid announcements and advertisements:
The publisher and editor have the right to refuse to place announcements and advertisements if their content or form is inconsistent with the program or nature of the publication.
“Scandalous preventive censorship”
– This decision applies to all our candidates from the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship. The editorial staff of “Echo Kielecki” initially accepted this advertisement. We transferred the money. Then we received a negative decision, and the publisher returned the funds to us, Marek Kacprzak, spokesman for the New Left parliamentary club, told tvn24.pl.
– New Left is a legally operating party, its Election Committee has been registered like any other. I represent not only the Left, but also KO, PSL and Poland 2050. Polska Press is trying to influence the result elections. This is scandalous preventive censorship, and we are no longer allowed to do so Hungarybut in Belarus – says Henryk Milcarz, the opposition candidate for senator from Kielce.
Maja Nowak, candidate of the Third Way from Gorzów Wielkopolski, tells us that her advertisement has been ordered, but has not been paid yet. – We have been talking to editorial representatives about this topic for the last three weeks. Yesterday we received a rejection letter that doesn’t make sense at all. The content states that they refuse to publish “without giving a reason”, and they state the reason above. What’s more, the announcement did not mention any content: it only included my name, surname, image and the Third Way logo – says Nowak.
The refusals to publish raised doubts as to whether other election announcements would appear in the media belonging to the Polska Press group, including: candidate of the Left from Krakow – second on the list, MP Daria Gosek-Popiołek. – We have been talking to the editorial offices of “Gazeta Krakowska” and “Dziennik Polski” for a long time, the advertisements have been ordered and we sent them today. They are being verified, we are waiting. So far, we have not encountered a blockade at any stage – Gosek-Popiołek tells us.
Media expert: the reader has the right to get to know the candidates
Media expert Maciej Myśliwiec points out that “an election announcement is not an ordinary commercial advertisement of services or products, but is related to the electoral process.” – Refusing committees to publish their announcements does not look good from the point of view of the electoral process – he says in an interview with tvn24.pl.
– One can also ask whether, by refusing to publish advertisements of certain committees, the principle of journalistic objectivity is maintained, i.e. showing the full picture of the world from its many sides. Every voter and reader has the right to get to know the candidates from their district – the expert tells us.
Maciej Myśliwiec points out that each editorial office may refuse to publish an advertisement, invoking Article 36. – However, my question is: how can the program line of a given magazine be violated by the image, name and surname of a candidate of any committee. I would be happy to ask the editors about it, he points out.
– In my opinion, committees that were refused publication should consider taking legal steps, if possible, in the electoral mode, in order to clarify this situation – says the media expert.
PO notifies the prosecutor’s office regarding the spots on Radio Kielce
We hear from politicians of the Civic Coalition that it is not a priority for them to buy advertisements for parliamentary candidates in the media belonging to Polska Press. – We focus on other channels. I have no information about us ordering advertisements in Polska Press dailies – tells us Aleksander Miszalski, KO MP from Małopolska.
We obtain similar information from Agata Wojda, head of the Kielce Civic Platform. However, she also draws attention to the “uneven campaign” in the media. – Last week, we submitted a notification to the prosecutor’s office about the possibility of committing a crime by Radio Kielce and its president – Wojda tells us.
“The height of impertinence is the publication by RK (Radio Kielce – ed.) of new PiS election spots. This is a clear violation of Article 507 of the Electoral Code. In this case, on behalf of the Civic Coalition, I submitted a notification to the prosecutor’s office about the possibility of committing a crime by RK and the president Janusz Knap,” we read in the politician’s statement.
Orlen bought Polska Press
The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection agreed to the takeover of Polska Press by Orlen at the beginning of February 2021. Polska Press is one of the largest publishing groups in Poland, with approximately 20 regional dailies, nearly 120 local weeklies and free press. It sells advertising space in the press and on the Internet and provides printing services. The group includes printing houses and online websites.
The takeover by Orlen of the largest publisher of regional media in Poland – Polska Press – had a negative impact on the freedom of journalistic activity in these media – she assessed in June this year. in its report by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR).