Poland: the government put public service media in a state of liquidation
The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) are concerned about the political battle between the majority and opposition parties in Poland over the control of public service media. The EFJ and IFJ reiterate their call on political decision-makers to carry out reforms of public service media while respecting their editorial independence and maintaining the financial, human and technical resources necessary to guarantee the quality, independence and pluralism of these media.
On Wednesday, following the decision of the President of the Republic, Andrzej Duda, an ally of the previous conservative government, to suspend funding for public media, the new Polish Minister of Culture, Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz, decided to put into liquidation the companies Telewizja Polska SA, Polskie Radio SA and Polska Agencja Prasowa SA, which manage respectively the public television channel TVP, the national radio and the press agency PAP. The new pro-European Union government said that this liquidation status would give more protection from the political dispute to TVP, the national radio and the news agency and their employees, securing their jobs despite the lack of funding and allowing for restructuring.
The EFJ and IFJ regret that the Polish government has come to such a radical decision at a time when the Polish population has been deprived of access to several TVP news programmes since 20 December. The news channels TVP Info, TVP World and TVP3 have stopped broadcasting. And according to the Polish Journalists Association (SDP), which denounces a brutal interference of politicians in the functioning of these media, “hundreds of journalists across the country have already been deprived of their jobs in the public media”.
Once again, the EFJ and IFJ do not dispute the need for reforms to establish the independence and pluralism of public service media in Poland, but they consider that these reforms must be carried out with respect for the rights of journalists, without political interference, and in a context that guarantees citizens’ access to independent and reliable information.
Both President Duda’s refusal to validate the financing of Polish public media and the government’s decision to put these media into liquidation appear to us to be contrary to the public interest. The EFJ and IFJ urge Polish policymakers to establish clear and robust safeguards shielding public service media from any form of political or economic pressure.