Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has declared a press freedom state of emergency in Poland when its team visited Warsaw recently and participated in a protest in the Polish capital against a broadcasting law amendment that implicitly targets the commercial broadcaster TVN.
Submitted to the Polish Parliament on 7 July, the amendment would prohibit companies based outside the European Economic Area from holding more than a 49% stake in Polish broadcast media. Any media outlet that failed to comply would be denied a broadcast licence.
Long a target of the Polish government, TVN is owned by the US media group Discovery and its news channel, TVN24, which has been subjected to a great deal of harassment, could be stripped of its broadcast licence as early as 26 September. Discovery has told President Andrzej Duda that it intends to bring legal action if the amendment targeting TVN is definitively approved. It would force Discovery to sell the majority of its shares in TVN, which could then be bought by government-controlled companies, according to a press release issued by Reforters Without Borders. At the same time as it is threatening media independence and pluralism with this amendment, “the government has imposed draconian restrictions on reporters on 2 September, banning them from going to the border with Belarus to cover the situation there,” according to the press release.