Polish Law on Public Service Broadcasting Removes Guarantees of IndependenceUpdate: 15 Mar 2017 State replied
The law on Public Service Media governance which has been hurriedly adopted by the Polish parliament proposes the removal of guarantees for the independence of public service TV (TVP) and Radio (PR), in breach of Council of Europe norms and of the mandate given by the Polish constitution to the independent broadcasting authority (KRRiT) to uphold the broad public interest in broadcasting. The legislation gives a government minister exclusive powers to appoint and dismiss all members of the Supervisory and Management Boards of TVP and PR, making them wholly dependent on the goodwill and favour of the government The proposed arrangements represent a shift to direct government control over the strategic and editorial stance of the public broadcasters which is wholly unacceptable in a genuine democracy. The fundamental and drastic changes proposed were put before parliament to be voted on without the necessary inclusive public debate and in spite of strong objections by the KRRiT and many concerned bodies in Poland and abroad. The Polish government's plans directly contradict the commitments made by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in its 2012 Declaration on Public Service Media Governance; that Declaration stated that PSM must remain independent of political or economic interference, and should be accountable and transparent as they have the obligation to serve the public in all its diversity. The organisations submitting this Alert call on the Polish ruling party to abandon the proposed legislation at once.
- Press release from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU): " EBU urges Polish government to ensure independence of public broadcasting system"
- Press release from RSF: "RSF calls for firm EU stance if Poland does not abandon new media law"
- Open letter urging the President of the European Commission, Mr. Juncker, to call for the repeal of Poland’s new media law
- Press release by EBU: "EBU appeals to Polish president to reject controversial media bill"
- Press release by EBU: "Press Freedom and Media Organisations issue statement opposing abolition of essential safeguards for public service media pluralism and independence in Poland"
- EBU letter to Polish Parliament (29 December 2015)
- Open letter from AEJ: "AEJ Open Letter asks Polish ministers to shelve ‘hasty’ plans for government control over public broadcasting "
- Press release by EFJ: "Polish media reform to exert more control on public service broadcaster"
Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer
PACE resolution 2141 (2017) on Attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe, 24 January 2017
Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)4 of the Committee of Ministers on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors, 13 April 2016
Factsheet on freedom of expression and the broadcasting media, 4 April 2016
Factsheet on mass surveillance, 29 February 2016
Factsheet on media coverage of protests and demonstrations, 29 February 2016
A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Killings; abductions; threats and acts of violence against the physical integrity of journalists, their family members and other media actors; attacks against journalists’ sources because of their co-operation with journalists or media.
B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists
Arbitrary, unwarranted or politically-motivated arrests, detention and imprisonment of journalists and other media actors.
C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists
Harassment of journalists and other media institutions or actors; violence or interference causing damage or destruction of journalists’ equipment or other property; punitive or vindictive exercise of investigatory tax or administrative powers; arbitrary denial of access for journalistic coverage; threats to journalists’ privacy, threats to employment status, psychological abuse, bullying, online harassment and cyber-bullying;
Judicial intimidation: opportunistic, arbitrary or vexatious use of legislation, including defamation, anti-terrorism, national security, hooliganism or anti-extremism laws; issuing bogus or fabricated charges;
Political intimidation, including hate speech and use by public figures of abusive or demeaning language against journalists or media outlets;
Other forms of intimidation and harassment.
Failures to promptly, independently and effectively investigate and seek to prosecute crimes and offences against journalists and other media institutions or actors.
E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Acts having chilling effects on media freedom including restrictive legislation encroaching on media freedom;
Censorship, interference with editorial freedom;
Threats to the confidentiality of journalists’ sources;
Unjustified or indiscriminate blocking of websites or social media platforms, hacking, and surveillance or interception of communications data of journalists without due process of authorisation, etc.
The platform was set up in close co-operation with five major journalists’ and freedom of expression organisations* – signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Council of Europe. They are responsible for providing verified information on serious concerns with regard to the media freedom and safety of journalists.
* European Federation of Journalists, International Federation of Journalists, Association of European Journalists , Article 19, Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, Index on Censorship, International Press Institute, International News Safety Institute, the Rory Peck Trust
Covers the most severe and damaging violations of media freedom, including but not limited to murder, assassination or direct threat to the life of journalists or other media actors, or their family members, because of their journalistic work; physical assaults or any acts causing grievous injury to journalists or other media actors, or the use of violence to threaten their physical safety; impunity for any such violations; prolonged arbitrary detention or imprisonment of journalists because of their professional activities or their status as journalist; arbitrary closure of a media enterprise; and any other acts posing a grave threat or having a severe impact on media freedom, online or offline.
Covers all other serious threats to media freedom, including but not limited to physical assaults causing actual bodily harm, acts of intimidation and harassment; use by public figures of threatening or severely abusive language towards media members; unwarranted seizure or damage to property or equipment; laws and regulations that unduly restrict media freedom or access to information; actions that jeopardise the confidentiality of sources or the independence of the public sector broadcasters; abusive or disproportionate use of legislation; misuse of governmental or other powers to direct media content or to penalise media or journalists; interference with media freedom through ownership, control and regulation; and other acts posing a serious threat to media freedom, offline or online.
This section presents a non-exhaustive selection of CoE instruments and ECHR case-law. This information is not a legal assessment of the alert and should not be treated or used as such.