Protests as Poland Moves to Restrict Foreign Ownership of Local Media

A woman holds a placard reading 'Veto - Lex TVN' as she takes part in a demonstration against a new rule voted in Polish parliament pointed against freedom of media and TVN - opposition to government tv station especialy, in Warsaw, Poland on December 19, 2021. - Thousands of people …
WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Following the passing of a law that would restrict foreign ownership of media organisations by the Polish parliament, some Poles gathered to demand President Andrzej Duda veto the bill.

The protests took place in various parts of the country, with a few thousand estimated to have gathered outside of the Polish presidential palace to demand that President Duda veto the bill, which was passed on Friday.

The bill, which bans foreign majority ownership of Polish media companies, primarily affects the television channel TVN24, which is owned by the U.S.-based company Discovery.

Rafal Trzaskowski, Mayor of Warsaw and former rival to Duda for the presidency, spoke at one of the protests on Sunday, alleging “This is not just about one channel. In a moment [there will be] censorship of the Internet, an attempt to extinguish all independent sources of information — but we will not allow that to happen,” according to Reuters.

Broadcaster TVN also released a statement calling on President Duda to veto the legislation, saying: “The attack on media freedom has far-reaching consequences for the future of Polish.”

The broadcaster went on to claim that the move was destroying relations between Poland and the United States.

“We cannot allow this to happen! We need strong, trust-based cooperation with international partners,” they asserted.

TVN24 has also seen support from other media companies and claims to have received 1.5 million signatures for a petition calling on President Duda to use his presidential veto.

The Polish president has so far not committed to passing or vetoing the bill and stated that he would make a decision when he receives the bill.

The new bill has the potential to spark yet another conflict between Poland and the European Union, as the European Commission said on Monday that it was concerned over the issue.

“We are following the latest developments with concern,” a Commission spokesman said during a press conference in Brussels.

“The vote that took place on Friday puts further pressure on the media sector on Poland… It may lead to limitation of media freedom in Poland where the media landscape already suffers under growing politicization,” the spokesman added.

Russia-linked news organisations have been denied broadcasting licences in multiple EU member-states without such expressions of concern, however.

 

The EU and Poland have battled on several issues in recent years, largely focused on immigration and EU interference in Polish judicial reforms.

In October, the European Union ordered the Polish government to pay daily fines of €1 million (£850,000/$1.2 million) unless it scrapped a disciplinary chamber for judges.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com

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