24 Jun 2019 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 04 Jan 2016 n° 1/2016 Poland

Polish Law on Public Service Broadcasting Removes Guarantees of Independence

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner AEJ Article 19 CPJ EFJ/IFJ Index RSF
Partner AEJ Article 19 CPJ EFJ/IFJ Index RSF
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.
24 Jun 2019
On 11 June 2019, in a statement before Parliament, Head of KRRiT Witold Kołodziejski acknowledged that public service media were bound to deliver objective and pluralistic programming. He also denied any responsibility for monitoring the level of objectivity and pluralism in Poland’s electronic media (both public and commercial), as KRRiT would find itself limiting freedom of speech and “each broadcaster has the right to shape its company’s programme as it sees fit”.
26 May 2019
On 20 May 2019, KRRiT published a study, commissioned to the John Paul II University at Kraków, monitoring the content of TVP’s daily news programme “The News” (Wiadomości). The study, which was conducted in 2017, concluded that Wiadomości “favoured the governing party”, “lacked pluralism and unbiased reporting”, and that it carried “propaganda items which praised the government’s successes”.
15 Mar 2019
On 11 February 2019, upon reports that TVP had not ensured fair and unbiased coverage in the run-up to local government elections the previous autumn, the State Election Commission (PKW) requested KRRiT to monitor the media coverage of upcoming European Parliament elections. On 11 March 2019, KRRiT refused the request, citing a lack of funds, personnel and time.
04 Jul 2017
On 7 July 2016, the new “Act on the National Media Council" entered into force, according to which two out of five members of the Council are designated by the opposition parties while the remaining three are appointed by the present authorities. That system of senior management appointments to the public broadcaster by the new National Media Council has been criticised by some journalists’ organisations as being done, in effect, under the political and economic control of the government authorities, in contravention of the Council of Europe’s standards of independence of public service media. According to the Polish Towarzystwo Dziennikarskie (Society of Journalists), as of 4 July 2017, 228 journalists have lost their jobs - either by being dismissed or by resigning - as a result of management changes in the public radio and TV since the beginning of 2016.
07 Jan 2016
On 7 January 2016, the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, signed the act on public service media governance into law.
Additional Information
State replies
02 May 2017
The CoE Commissioner for Human Rights details the prerequisites for well-funded and strong public service media.
15 Jun 2016
Addressing the reform of public service media which is currently underway, the Commissioner urged the Polish authorities to introduce safeguards to guarantee the independence of public service media from political influence.
15 Jun 2016
The Secretary General welcomes the constructive dialogue with the Polish authorities on the public media legislation.
07 Jun 2016
Expert dialogue between the Polish Government and the Council of Europe : conclusions published
16 Feb 2016
Upon return of his visit to Poland, Coe Commissioner for Human rights expresses concerns at the adoption in December 2015 of transitional legislation in the field of public service media, pending the adoption of a wider reform in this area, expected before the summer 2016.
14 Jan 2016
CoE Secretary General mentions changes to the Polish Radio and Television Broadcasting Act in his address to the Committee of Ministers
06 Jan 2016
OSCE Media Freedom Representative urges Poland’s government to withdraw proposed changes to the selection of management in public service broadcasters
05 Jan 2016
Coe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland expresses his particular concern with regard to the new Polish law on public service broadcasting and the impact it may have on the integrity and independence of public service media.
05 Jan 2016
Call by the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights on Polish President not to sign new Media Law
Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer
15 Dec 2016
Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on public service media governance (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 15 February 2012 at the 1134th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)
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