Poland amends broadcasting laws, curbs press freedom

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) and its allies recently passed an amendment to broadcasting laws that would bar companies that are majority-owned by entities from outside the European Economic Area from owning a controlling stake in Polish broadcasters. 

Popularly called “Lex TVN”, this bill is seen as targeting TVN, owned by Discovery of the US — which provides news coverage that is often critical of the government.

The amendment is a further step to squeeze media freedom, echoing the views of Hungary’s populist-nationalist leader Viktor Orban. 

PiS has already reduced Poland’s public broadcaster to a crude propagandist for the government. A state-owned oil group has been used to buy up various local media outlets. 

Advertising from state bodies has been channelled to pliable media groups. Poland’s media watchdog is also dragging its feet on an 18-month-old application to renew the broadcasting licence of TVN’s main news channel, TVN24.

Poland’s EU and US partners are grappling with how to prevent Poland from being “lost” to liberal democracy. Pressure to date has had limited effect.