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Poland’s New Media Bill Raises Questions

Law abolishes the management of the country’s public broadcasters and transfers power to a government minister

On Jan. 7 Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a temporary new media bill, which many are calling a threat to the country’s media freedom.

The bill, in place until June 30, terminates the management of Poland’s public television and radio broadcasters, Telewizja Polska and Polskie Radio, limits the number of members sitting on their supervisory and management boards, and transfers the power of nomination and dismissal of their board members to a government minister. In June, a new legislation covering the country’s state-run broadcasters is expected to be established.

The European Broadcasting Union, which had previously sent letters to the Polish government expressing its disapproval of the bill, has reacted strongly to its approval.

“I am dismayed by the president’s decision,” said Ingrid Deltenre, director general of the EBU. “The fact that the government refused any discussion, or to accept any expert legal advice from the European Commission, Council of Europe or other media expert organizations appears to reflect its overall attitude toward European institutions and fundamental democratic values,” she said.

“This decision is highly damaging to public media values, which have an essential role in the expression of society’s pluralism,” said Jean Paul Philippot, EBU president.

“We hope that the full media reform planned for later this year will substantially improve the new media bill, and as always the EBU is prepared to provide all legal and expertise and advice,” concluded Deltenre.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, the European Federation of Journalists, the Association of European Journalists and Reporters Without Borders have joined the EBU in denouncing the introduction of new media bill.