A motion tightening foreign ownership rules for Polish media was finally voted on by Poland’s lower house, the lower house, on Wednesday evening.
– It was an uproar. Nothing can be compared to what is politically turbulent in Sweden. Here, Law and Justice (the ruling party) lost four votes as it was due to be voted on, author Peter Johnson tells TT.
It must be seen that the proposal, after much deliberation, has been voted on in view of the fact that it now also needs to be voted on in the Polish Senate, and then returned to the Chamber of Deputies.
But the fundamental question is whether strict law constitutes a stifling grip on free media – or a way to stem the influence of Russian and Chinese information? According to Johnson, the answer is simple:
Every authoritarian power wants to subjugate the media. There is no reason to ban or ban US-owned TVN24. Current Polish legislation is just enough to stop aggressive Russian or Chinese influence.
Many see the proposal as a way to shut down TV channels whose reporting did not appeal to the Warsaw government. TVN24, owned by American Discovery, is Poland’s most popular news channel, and the company describes the PIS proposal as an attempt to limit press freedom.
There are already rules in Poland that prevent non-European companies from owning more than 49 percent of Polish media companies. TVN24 managed to get around this by owning a subsidiary of Discovery, registered in the Netherlands. According to many evaluators, this loophole will disappear if the bill is passed.
Mass demonstrations in about 80 cities gathered in sharp criticism of the bill, which is seen as an attack on press freedom in a country where the media already operates heavily.
Troubles within the government
There is some turmoil in the ruling United Right-dominated coalition, when earlier this week Moraviki sacked his deputy, Jaroslav Gwin, who is also the leader of junior partner Borozomeni (roughly “agreement” in Swedish). Despite this, the government believes the law will be passed.
“This commotion shows that the ability of law and justice to continue to rule hangs on a very fragile thread,” says Johnson.
“Falls down a lot. Internet fanatic. Proud analyst. Creator. Wannabe music lover. Introvert. Tv aficionado.”