Destroying free speech is a priority for Law and Justice

Poland’s ‘ TVN law’ illegally passed today by Poland’s parliament at high speed and with scant prior notice shows that one of the countrys Law and Justice (PIS) government’s priorities is to shackle our free media.

As a result TVN, the only major independent tv channel in Poland, will be eliminated as the law limits the presence of majority foreign media owners in the country to those domiciled in the European Economic Area. Thus, under the law, Discovery, TVN’s US owner even though currently registered in Holland, would be forced sell a majority share to a company from the EEA. This could mean that TVN could come under the  sway of Poland’s authorities if a consortium of pro government owners were to make a bid for TVN. The authirities already control TVP, the public service broadcaster and are able to influence broadcast content from Polsat, the other large television broadcaster.    

Were Andrzej Duda, the president who has the right to veto the law, to accept Parliament’s decision, then this will mark a further step in the process of limiting media freedom after the takeover last year, by Orlen, a state owned company, of a large share of Poland’s regional media.

Law and Justice is aiming to eliminate critical reporting on the near 100,000 Covied related deaths Poland has suffered as well as rising inflation and successive political scandals. The move against TVN  risks Poland’s security. If the president fails to veto the ‘TVN law’ Poland’s key ally in NATO will react to this blow against the biggest US investment in Poland. The US response could include a reduction in America’s military presence in Poland , on NATO’s eastern most flank thus weakening Poland’s defences against Belarus and Russia.

We appeal to all organisations at home and abroad defending freedom of speech to protest in the face of the threat posed by ‘Lex TVN’.

Towarzystwo Dziennikarskie / Society of Journalists
Warsaw, 17 December 2021

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