Polish public television: propaganda instead of news

Atacks by Polish public television  (TVP)  aimed at Donald Tusk, the head of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and Poland’s main opposition leader, have come under fire from members of the Programme Council, an TVP’s advisory body.

The Programme Council members have written to Witold Kołodziejski, the head of KRRiT, the electronic media regulator, to urge him to sanction TVP’s Wiadomości, flagship newscast, for describing the EPP on March 16, 2022 as the „European Putin Party” in a slur designed to identify Tusk as a pro-Russian politician and the EPP, in which the German CDU plays a leading role, as a pro-Russian party.

TVP’s 15-person strong Programme Council  is dominated by Law and Justice (PiS), the ruling party’s supporters but has an dissident minority which is critical of TVP’s blatant propagandizing.

The current TVP campaign against Donald Tusk, in the midst of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, comes after pre-war efforts by PiS to build a Eurosceptic group in the European Parliament, containing pro-Putin politicians, such as Marine Le Pen from the right wing French National Union, Matteo Salvini from Italy’s Northern League and Viktor Orban, the Hungarian leader, all of whom have expressed support for the Russian leader in the past.

Our Towarzystwo Dziennikarskie (Society of Journalists) has looked at Wiadomości’s newscasts from March 12 to the 19th and identified pictures and statements which seek to persuade viewers  that it is Donald Tusk and the EPP, who are the pro-Russian party in Europe, while failing to refer to the recent drive by  PiS to build a strong group in the EP containing pro-Putin politicians.

The attached recordings with English subtitles shows that day after day TVP Wiadomości ran items on Tusk ranging from an accusation that in the past Tusk „embraced the Russian beast” to showing him speaking at an anti-Orban rally in Budapest alongside a Hungarian Jobbick party politician described as a “former neo-Nazi”, to saying that EPP politicians „succumbed to Russian disinformation” by voting in the European Parliament to support efforts by the European Commission and to defend the rule of law in Poland.

This relentless propaganda by TVP goes far beyond the bounds outlined in Poland’s broadcast laws, which direct the public service media to provide fair, balanced, complete and independent coverage of the country’s political scene.

Up till now the KRRiT has done nothing to limit these excesses. The appeal of members of TVP’s Programme Council is the latest attempt to curtail this practice.

Krzysztof Bobiński
Andrzej Krajewski

Towarzystwo Dziennikarskie
Executive Board members

Warsaw, March 28, 2022

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