Members of the Journalists’ Society sent a letter to the head of the National Broadcasting Council, Maciej Świrski, after he launched the third recently proceeding against TVN24. “Your conduct has nothing to do with the mission of the National Council, it is an open attack on free speech and an attempt at censorship. We would like to remind you that not everything that appears in the media has to please you,” the letter reads.
Three proceedings against TVN24 concern: reportage “Franciscan 3”reportage “The power of lies” and talks by Monika Olejnik in the “Kropka nad i” program. On April 19 – on the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising – her guest was prof. Barbara Engelking, director of the Center for Holocaust Research of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and author of the concept for the exhibition “Sea of Fire Around Us” at the POLIN Museum.
On Monday, in response to the actions of the chairman of the National Broadcasting Council, members of the Society of Journalists sent a letter to Maciej Świrski. Below we present its full text.
As the Chairman of the National Broadcasting Council, you are asking why the journalist did not protest against the opinion of the guest of her program. You say: “If the guest of the program is lying, the journalist is supposed to tell the viewers that it is a lie”. Prof. Barbara Engelking told Monika Olejnik on TVN that “Jews were unbelievably disillusioned with Poles during the war.” For all those who know anything about the reality of the occupation, the words of prof. Engelking are obvious and your allegations are absurd.
You recognize that TVN reportage “Franciszkańska 3” that Karol Wojtyła knew about cases of pedophilia among priests, but did not punish them for it, violates art. 18 of the Broadcasting Act, concerning respect for the religious beliefs of the audience, and especially the Christian system of values. In our opinion, it is difficult to see any violation of the rules of objectivity and violation of the canons of journalism in this reportage.
You think that TVN program “The Power of Lies” about the reasons the Smolensk disaster violates the Broadcasting Act because it promotes “activities threatening security”. The National Broadcasting Council initiated proceedings against TVN on the basis of a complaint from Antoni Macierewicz, who believes that “it is the duty of the media to inform the public about the true causes of the catastrophe and the Russian responsibility for this catastrophe.” In our opinion, this report also met all the rules of the journalistic craft, and the author substantively substantiated his theses and presented evidence for them.
The TVN broadcasting license granted by the National Broadcasting Council expires on April 14, 2024. Your conduct shows that the closer it is to this date, the more pressure is put on the American owner of the only independent television in Poland to limit the inquisitiveness of journalists and to soften their criticism of the authorities. The idea is for journalists to “not interfere and support” as expected of citizens Jaroslaw Kaczynski and how employees of the former public media do it.
Article 213 of the Constitution provides that National Broadcasting Council “guards the freedom of speech, the right to information and the public interest in radio and television.” In the proceedings initiated by you, we do not see compliance with these provisions, but only upholding the interests of the ruling party.
We believe that your conduct has nothing to do with the mission of the National Council, it is an open attack on free speech and an attempt at censorship. We remind you that not everything that appears in the media has to please you.
Warsaw, April 23, 2023
TVN24 is not the only medium against which Świrski has taken action.
In February, the head of the National Broadcasting Council initiated proceedings to punish TOK FM, accusing the broadcaster of violating Art. 18 sec. 1 of the Broadcasting Act. However, it was not indicated how the radio station broke the rules.
In April, he did the same after the publication of Radio ZET on the subject Speaker of the Sejm Elżbieta Witek and her husband. According to journalists, he has been an ICU patient in the hospital in Legnica for several months, and the daughter of one of the patients, who died after a week of waiting for a place in the ward, filed a notification to the prosecutor’s office regarding the violation of powers by doctors from the Provincial Specialist Hospital in Legnica .
Also in this case, the letter from the head of the National Broadcasting Council informed that his “proceedings are aimed at checking whether the publication does not violate Article 18(1) of the Broadcasting Act”.
Main photo source: PAP/Leszek Szymanski