New management at TVP as former gov’t leaders stage sit-in

20th December 2023
Politicians of the Poland’s former populist government staged a sit-in at the broadcaster, claiming to be “defending democracy”.
Poland TVP
Flags of different channels in front of one of the buildings of Polish Television (TVP) in Warsaw. Credit: fotokon/iStock


  • On Tuesday night, Poland’s new coalition government passed a resolution in the Sejm ordering the State Treasury to “to take immediate corrective actions to … ensure the proper functioning” of TVP and the Polish Press Agency, and restore their independence.
  • In response, members of the former right-wing nationalist government staged a sit-in at the broadcaster, arguing they were “defending democracy”.
  • The following morning, the State Treasury took action, removing the Management Boards of the radio, television and press agency from their posts.
  • At the same time, TVP Info was taken off air. It was also unavailable online for a period.


Management teams at Poland’s national broadcaster TVP have been dismissed from their positions, the news channel taken off air, and the news website temporarily down, following a dramatic night for the organisation.

On Tuesday evening, at the same time the Sejm (Poland’s Senate) passed a resolution calling on all state authorities to implement measures to restore the broadcaster’s independence, politicians from the former Law and Justice Party (PiS) government staged a sit-in at the broadcaster.

Those involved with the sit-in said they were “defending democracy” and accused the new government of trying to undermine the broadcaster. However, they were criticised by others, who said their actions were “laughable” given their previous record with TVP.

Read more: Focus on Poland: Pressure on independent media

On Wednesday morning, the State Treasury, having been ordered to “take immediate corrective actions” by the resolution, removed the management boards of the public television, radio and press agencies, from their post.

News channel TVP Info was also taken off air, although under whose order is not yet known. For a brief period, the broadcaster’s news website was also taken down, but this has since been restored. Since then, many of its articles have featured PiS politicians condemning the new government’s actions.


Poland has only been under the leadership of the new centrist coalition government, headed by Prime Minister Donald Tusk, since 11 December.

The previous government faced substantial criticism for their nationalist agenda. One area in particular was over its relationship with the public broadcaster, TVP.

Reports from many civil society organisations highlighted that TVP had become a heavily-skewed and pro-PiS broadcaster, in breach of its impartial obligations. RSF’s Press Freedom Index 2023 called it an “instrument of government propaganda”. Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2023 report said “TVP, the state broadcaster, promotes government messages and often seeks to discredit the opposition”. A recent Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) mission to Poland found that “TVP is failing in the fundamental duty of any public broadcaster to provide fair and balanced political coverage between and during elections.”

Figures from the Polish media regulator, as highlighted by the MFRR, showed that 80 percent of TVP’s political coverage was dedicated to the PiS coalition government, of which, 73 percent was given to PiS party itself. The remaining 20 percent was shared between political opposition parties but was largely negative.

“Our protest is a defence of democracy, because there is no democracy without media pluralism and without strong anti-government media, and in Poland these are public media,” – PiS President Jarosław Kaczyński. 

Such disproportionate coverage towards the ruling party led critics to term the broadcaster TVPiS.

The Public Media Alliance (PMA) repeatedly reported on the situation over the period, and noted the dramatic decline in TVP’s independence, which coincided with a wider clampdown on independent private media. Poland’s ranking in RSF’s press freedom index declined by 39 places over the PiS’ eight years in power.

A particular focus of attack by the former government was TVN, a US-owned TV network, which often produced independent journalism that scrutinised the government. A law attempting to force the US owners to sell TVN was passed by the PiS government, before being vetoed by the President who was under international pressure to do so.

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What does the resolution say?

Despite being in power for less than ten days, Mr. Tusk has already indicated his new administration would constitute a major break with what came before, and said that restoring TVP’s independence would be one key priority.

As such, the new coalition government passed a resolution on Tuesday night recognising TVP’s current deficiencies. There is a “continued state of open violation of the law and violations of the right to information and the principle of pluralism by public radio and television broadcasting entities and the Polish Press Agency,” the resolution says, as reported by TVN.

“Despite the parliamentary elections won by the democratic opposition and the new coalition taking over the government (…), the public radio and television and PAP [the news agency] are still conducting a constant campaign in favour of the previous political camp.”

Under the terms of the resolution, all State authorities have been tasked with “restoring legal order and the impartiality and reliability of the public media and the Polish Press Agency.”

In particular, the resolution orders the State Treasury, “to take immediate corrective actions to achieve the objectives set out in this resolution and ensure the proper functioning of the public radio and television broadcasting units and the Polish Press Agency in accordance with standards of the rule of law in the transitional period – i.e. until the adoption and implementation of appropriate legislative solutions.”

The resolution passed comfortably, especially given that 109 PiS representatives were absent from the vote, with many instead descending upon the broadcaster’s headquarters, where they staged a sit-in.

Included in the group was President Jarosław Kaczyński and head of the PiS club Mariusz Błaszczak, reported “Our protest is a defence of democracy, because there is no democracy without media pluralism and without strong anti-government media, and in Poland these are public media,” Mr. Kaczyński said.

“TVP is failing in the fundamental duty of any public broadcaster to provide fair and balanced political coverage between and during elections.” – MFRR Mission Report

Old management out, new management in

Following the evening’s events, the new government took action on Wednesday morning, removing the management teams behind the different radio and television divisions, as well as those at the helm of the Polish Press Agency. Police also arrived at the headquarters.

New Supervisory Boards have been installed, who will now be tasked with appointing the replacement Management Boards. However, TVN reported that the Ministry of Culture did not clarify who was appointed to the supervisory boards.

The action was condemned by Poland’s former Prime Minister and PiS politician, Mateusz Morawiecki, who wrote on X, “The illegal actions of the Minister of Culture in relation to TVP, Polish Radio and PAP show how the authorities that supposedly care about the rule of law violate it at every step. And they only rule for a week… We will not give up. We will not allow the construction of a dictatorship in Poland.”

The President of the PiS, Mr. Kacyński, said the actions amounted to a “micro-coup … It’s a micro-coup, but a dangerous one. This government has no intention of taking the legal order or constitution into account. The constitution doesn’t work. This is the worst thing that could have happened to Poland, but it happened. Our job is to fight this.”

Further legislative work – as indicated in the resolution – is now underway, but one challenge could come from the Constitutional Tribunal. Last week, at the request of PiS politicians, the Tribunal made an interim ruling preventing the State Treasury from “actions aimed at liquidation or initiation of liquidation and dissolution of capital companies constituting units of public radio and television broadcasting”, reported.

Effective public service media can only achieve their missions to inform, educate and entertain where their core values such as editorial and organisational independence are fully protected. PMA will continue monitoring this rapidly evolving situation and produce an analysis in due course.