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Parliament approves National Media Council

PR dla Zagranicy
Roberto Galea 23.06.2016 08:53
The lower house of Polish parliament on Wednesday approved the setting up of a National Media Council, paving the way for wider changes in the state-owned media.
The Sejm, the lower house of Polish parliament. Photo: Flickr.com/KPRMThe Sejm, the lower house of Polish parliament. Photo: Flickr.com/KPRM

The National Media Council would appoint the management and supervisory boards of state-owned broadcaster TVP, Polish Radio and the PAP news agency.

On Thursday, the bill will be discussed by the Senate.

A total of 227 MPs voted in favour of the bill, with 207 voting against. One MP abstained.

The bill was supported by all members of governing Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Wider media bill

The move is part of a wider plan by the Polish government to overhaul the country's national media outlets. Based on preliminary plans, the changes would see TVP, Polish Radio and PAP focusing more on their public mission than the companies' commercial aspects.

Deputy Culture Minister Krzysztof Czabański had earlier said that the new legislation "guarantees the full independence of the public media, of journalists, freedom of speech, [and] guarantees a solid financial foundation."

He added that the government “will be completely cut off from any influence in terms of organisational and personnel issues on the public media."

International critics have said that the changes could see journalists losing their autonomy if the bill is approved. In a recent ranking by Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) World Press Freedom Index, Poland dropped from 18th place in 2015 to 47th in 2016.

Following the publication of the index in 2016, German national broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) said: “The results just published relate to the year 2015, also include November and December 2014”.

Speaking to DW in April, Christian Mihr, the head of RSF’s German section said that: “In Poland, there were always attempts to try and take control of public radio, also during previous governments. They always took it as far as they could […], and the new government is going for maximum impact.”

The PiS government came to power in October 2015.

tags: media bill
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