The Polish government has reportedly prepared a draft law that will transform the country's state owned television and radio broadcasters, as well as state newswire PAP, into “national media”. The legislation appears to suggest the government will vet the editorial lines of the outlet's to ensure they follow "traditional, patriotic and Christian values".
Should the bill, which PAP claimed on January 5 to have seen, make it through the parliament it will clearly incite more controversy over the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party's rough and rapid moves to consolidate power in Poland. The EU has made numerous objections, and has sought to up the ante at the start of the year as the PiS campaign drives onwards.
A new body, the National Media Board, will be set up to oversee those outlet's defined as "national media," according to the report. The same institute will nominate personnel such as channel directors.
Brussels said on Jaunary 4 it will review the government's actions at an upcoming meeting. That was driven by the passage through the lower house of parliament of a law giving the government direct control of nominations to executive posts at public television operator TVP and public radio operator PR. That legislation now only awaits the signature of PiS-friendly President Andrzej Duda to take effect.
On January 5, the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner called on Duda not to sign the law. It “worryingly places public service media under direct government control,” he claimed. However, the nationalist PiS has taken pleasure in shrugging off criticism from EU officials with much disdain, and has maintained that trend in the latest stand off.
The “national media” bill seeks to overhaul the way Poland’s public media cover news and provide analysis. In the case of PAP, it is to ensure “thorough, objective, and versatile coverage of domestic and international news.”
While that may seem not far from PAP's standard operations, changes looming for public television and radio appear much deeper. The fundamental task of TVP and PR will be to “cultivate national traditions and patriotic values” with respect to “Christian values” according to the draft law. The draft law also proposes verification of public media employees who will be assessed for their "usefulness" during the first quarter of 2016.
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