As Europe’s public service broadcasters face mounting political and financial pressures, there is particular concern for the impact of new media laws on the independence of Poland’s PSBs.
Sign used to protest for "Free media" at protests in Poland in January. Image: Jaap Arriens/Creative Commons
Sign used to protest for “Free media” at protests in Poland in January. Image: Jaap Arriens/Creative Commons

On the 7th May up to a quarter of a million people protested in Warsaw against the recently elected conservative government’s “flouting of democratic laws”. This included their imposition of a law that allows the treasury minister to appoint the heads of public radio and TV.

This “media law” is of particular concern to PMA, media watchdogs and the EU commission, resulting in the loss of many veteran journalist positions (up to 141 positions) and an ongoing top-down dismissal process  within public broadcasters by the government, according to a report by the Index on Censorship.

Yet in the months following the law, which passed in late 2015, the ruling Law & Justice party have been debating further changes whereby public broadcasters will be reorganised under the mantle of national media, with an “obligation to spread the viewpoints of the Sejm (lower house), the Senate and Poland’s Parliament”.

These changes have led critics to question the degree of impartiality offered by public broadcasters in Poland and in whose interest future content will favour. In the most recent Reporters without Borders World Press Freedom Index Poland plummeted 29 places to 47th, thanks in part to the increased control of PBSs by the government.

By Kristian Porter