Polish efforts to reduce foreign ownership of the country’s media have been dealt a blow, as organisations linked to globalist financier George Soros took control of a major radio group.
Agora SA, Poland’s largest publicly-traded publisher, which was “shored up” financially by the Hungarian-born billionaire in 2016 amidst sinking sales of its globalist flagship daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, on Wednesday announced it had agreed to buy a 40 per cent share in Eurozet, a media company which owns several radio stations.
The remaining 60 per cent stake in the group, whose assets include the country’s second largest station, Radio ZET, will be held by SFS Ventures, part of Soros’ Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF).
The two shareholders beat competition from interested parties including the conservative publisher Fratria, and Polish businessman Zbigniew Jakubas, to buy Eurozet from Czech Media Invest for an initial price of 131 million zlotys ($34.29 million), according to reports in Bloomberg.
With Agora’s presence on the news and entertainment landscape in Poland already huge, as the owner of dozens of properties and titles including Metro — the third most read daily and the country’s only free nationwide newspaper — the government sounded the alarm over media plurality when Soros’ interest in buying the Eurozet was flagged last month.
“The Polish state has to do everything it can to prevent market speculators from increasing their influence on the media market,” said Beata Mazurek, spokesman for Poland’s patriotic ruling party, Law & Justice (PiS), tweeting in January.
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After looking into its options, however, Deputy Culture Minister Pawel Lewandowski lamented that the government lacked tools for analysing “concentration on the media market with multiple platforms [or which could] measure concentration on the market of ideas”, with regards to the cross-market holdings of groups.
Since its election to power in 2015, PiS has advocated the country’s news companies should be in Polish hands, with Senate Speaker Stanislaw Karczewski remarking in November that foreign ownership “isn’t healthy”.
“I’m in favor of re-Polonization of the media, banks and other institutions, which should be majority-owned by Poles,” he told Rzeczpospolita daily, adding: “In the U.S., there’s no French or German television providing news on U.S. matters.”
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