The European Broadcasting Union’s President and Director General have reacted strongly to the Polish president signing off the country’s new media bill on 7 January.
“I am dismayed by the president’s decision," said Director General Ingrid Deltenre. "Sadly, it was not unexpected. The international community has strongly opposed the introduction of this Bill from the outset, when it was rushed through Parliament before the end of the year. The fact that the government refused any discussion, or to accept any expert legal advice from the European Commission, Council of Europe or other media expert organizations appears to reflect its overall attitude towards European institutions and fundamental democratic values.”
“What comes as a surprise to us is the underlying objective of this reform, which translates into a worrying interpretation of the public service media remit. The new regime’s ambition is to turn Polish radio and TV into media instruments for the government, and not for its citizens,” she added.
“Should the media reform be implemented as it stands, it is doomed to fail. It is just a question of time. No government can stop the digital transformation of the media system, and the globalization of its media organizations. Citizens will always find out the truth through new sources of information. It is for Polish citizens to decide whether they agree with the measures taken by their government. We hope that the full media reform planned for later this year will substantially improve the new media bill, and as always the EBU is prepared to provide all legal expertise and advice.”
According to EBU President Jean Paul Philippot, “this decision is highly damaging to public media values, which have an essential role in the expression of society’s pluralism."
"For this reason we will not compromise when it comes to editorial independence, which requires structural guarantees that no longer exist in Poland today. It is unacceptable that the mechanisms introduced over the past 20 years to ensure the independence of public service media and confine State-run media to the history books, be undermined in this way.”