Amid the dispute between the American company Discovery and the Polish government over an alleged discriminatory campaign against its TVN business, the European Publishers Council (EPC) expressed its “extreme concern” about what it regards as a “threat to the continuity of media freedom and plurality, as well as the reliability of the rules of the game in Poland, which are essential for investors and media professionals”.
In a statement, Christian Van Thillo, Chairman of the EPC, commented: “The way in which a hastily fabricated change in media laws, this time aimed at a specific TV channel, was ruthlessly pushed through in a special parliamentary session with controversial voting procedures and the narrowest of majorities, is nourishing the worst fears worldwide. This is yet another example of multi-pronged attacks on independent media outlets in Poland”.
Last week, Discovery Inc. said that it was planning to take legal action against the Polish government. The company’s announcement came a day after the lower house of parliament in Poland approved a bill that aims to ban non-European companies from owning controlling stakes in Polish media outlets.
In detail, Poland’s lower house of parliament passed legislation that - if implemented - will force the American company to sell more than 50% in its TVN unit. Moreover, Poland’s media regulator has for more than a year refused to renew the broadcasting license for Discovery’s TVN24 news channel, drawing accusations that the country was seeking to silence independent journalism.
“The European Publishers Council and its members condemn any party-politically motivated attempts to intimidate the media and media professionals. Repeated attacks of this kind are diametrically opposed to the liberal principles and values of our European Union. The free competition of thoughts and opinions is one of the prerequisites of reliable democracies. Thus, in this serious hour, Poland's democratic institutions are called upon to take into account the pluralistic ethos of our common European cohesion,” Van Thillo concluded.
The European Publishers Council and its members condemn any party-politically motivated attempts to intimidate the media and media professionals” Christian Van Thillo Chairman of the European Publishers Council (EPC)