Poland's TVN is fined PLN1.48mn for covering 2016 protests

Poland's TVN is fined PLN1.48mn for covering 2016 protests
The December 2016 protests were against government plans to limit media access to the parliament.
By bne IntelliNews December 13, 2017

The US-owned media group TVN was fined PLN1.48mn (€350,000) by Poland’s National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) for covering protests against government plans to limit media access to the parliament in December 2016.

As nearly all central public bodies in Poland, KRRiT is dominated by PiS nominees. The council said that the coverage of the events – by TVN’s news channel TVN24 – violated Poland’s media law by “promoting illegal activities and encouraging behaviour that threatens security”, KRRiT said in statement, dated December 11.

TVN said it was going to appeal KRRiT’s decision. The broadcaster said the fine was “groundless”.

The media company said the report, based on which KRRiT decided on the fine, was manipulated. For example, it failed to mention that TVN24 gave extensive airtime to PiS representatives throughout the crisis, TVN charged.

The decision to fine TVN has reverberated in international media. “Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, following a playbook pioneered by Vladimir Putin, appears intent on forcing TVN24 to adopt a pro-government line, or else be sold or shut down,” Anne Applebaum wrote in The Washington Post on December 12.

Following the decision to fine TVN, it emerged that the author of the report is Hanna Karp, a theologian by education who often speaks as a expert on media in PiS-friendly publications. Her journalist credentials include writing for media such as “The Exorcist” monthly.

Karp is also linked to TV Trwam, a Catholic television with ties to Tadeusz Rydzyk, a conservative priest and staunch supporter of PiS.

The fine is a “delicate reminder” on what media can and cannot do, Karp herself said in an interview to wpolityce.pl news website that supports the government.

TVN is a subsidiary of US media conglomerate Scripps Networks Interactive. Scripps bought TVN in 2015.

Earlier this year, TVN faced payment of a PLN110mn tax bill, which the tax authorities said was due because of irregularities in TVN taking over a digital broadcasting platform Cyfra+ in 2012. The matter is ongoing in an administrative court.