Thoughts and Observations on Polish Media Freedom

National Company || CC, Photo via Library of Congress

After the PiS government declared it is going to “repolonize” media, the US and German ambassadors to Poland, respectively Georgette Mosbacher and Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven, have met to discuss the freedom of press.

Freytag von Loringhoven tweeted: “The topics of our conversation were transatlantic relations, the Three Seas Initiative, and media freedom in Poland”.

PiS wants to reduce foreign ownership of media outlets in Poland, mostly by American and German corporations. “Repolonization” should prevent single companies from owning a large number of different titles.

Germany can react very aggressively to the issue of media deconcentration in Poland because it controls a significant part of the media market in our country and through that it can support pro-German opposition candidates in elections,” commented secretary of state in the PM´s office Adam Andruszkiewicz, former member of the extreme right movement.

Polish deputy foreign minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk said he agreed that “media freedom is a foundation of the democratic state” and added that he would like to “share with you, Mr. Ambassador, my thoughts and observations on media freedom and pluralism in Germany”.

PiS has been talking about “repolonization”, known also as deconcentration, of media since 2015 but has never presented any corresponding legislative proposal, mostly due to a very clear objection from the White House.

American Discovery corporation owns Poland’s biggest private television channel TVN, whose news channel tvn24 is the most popular and influential in the country.

The government is looking for other, extra-legislative mechanisms to reach its goal. For example, recently the media reported that Polish oil giant Orlen negotiates with German Verlagsgruppe Passau over buying its Polish branch, Polska Press, which owns 20 out of 24 regional daily newspapers in Poland and many local weekly magazines and websites.

Repolonization” has only one aim, namely to extend PiS’s propaganda. If this plan comes to fruition, Poland will fall in media freedom rankings even more (currently it occupies its lowest position ever in the World Press Freedom Index).

The article has been originally published in the “From Poland with Love” newsletter: 

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