Polish Pay-TV providers will now have to share their subscription databases in a bid to make the collection of the public broadcaster’s licence fee more efficient.

In February, the Polish government communicated its intention to make cable and satellite DTH providers share their customer data with Poczcie Polskjiek, Poland’s national postal service and collector of the licence fees that contribute to the public broadcaster’s revenue. 

According to Jaroslaw Sellin, the deputy Minister of Culture, this measure would encourage Polish people to pay the public broadcaster fees, which are currently avoided by many by owning TV sets to watch satellite TV.

“Currently, one needs to pay for a television or radio set, but technological development has made that very difficult these days because one could ask if a smartphone is not a television or radio receiver,” the Minister said.

Pay TV providers had previously criticised the proposal, arguing that the state was already in possession of all the databases necessary to improve the enforcement of the licence fee. Their concern increased as such disclosure of personal data would breach their consumers’ and privacy rights and thus affect their services and their relationship with customers.

In April, the proposed amendment had already led to a reduction in  pay-TV subscribers and a recent survey reported that 45% of the respondents would consider cancelling their contracts with pay-TV providers. In addition, seven Polish media associations asked the European Commission to intervene against the amendment, deemed not compatible with EU regulations.

In 2016, the income received by TV Nowa (TVN), Poland’s public broadcaster, via licence fee was 9.6% lower than in the previous year. With the new amendment, the hope is that around 2.8 million pay-TV subscribers will start to pay the mandatory fee, which currently amounts to PLN23 a month (USD6.19).

Refusing to provide customer data would now break the law, and those who do not comply may have to face penalties, according to Sellin.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Culture of National Heritage is working on another new law to collect licence fee, which might be sent to parliament in the upcoming weeks.

Header image: TVN Studio in Warsaw. Image: Drozdi-Pn/ Creative Commons