Poland’s ruling coalition struggles to pass controversial media law

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Polish update

The Polish ruling party failed to pass a controversial bill that could force an American media group to sell its controlling stake in Poland’s main independent broadcaster.

The bill, introduced by members of the conservative nationalist Party of Law and Justice (PiS), will prevent companies outside the European Economic Area from owning most Polish media companies.

The proposed legislation is widely regarded as Attack TVNIt is a broadcasting company under the American media group Discovery, which often provides critical reports on the government.

However, the coalition led by PiS, which lost one of the three constituent parties earlier on Wednesday, is under increasing pressure. The opposition party successfully passed a motion to suspend parliamentary meetings until September. It is not clear whether PiS will try to overturn the postponement later on Wednesday.

Members of PiS claimed that changes to the Polish media law are necessary to prevent companies from non-democratic countries from controlling Polish media groups.

PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski claimed on Saturday that Poland must protect itself from money launderers and “drug companies” entering the country’s media industry.

However, the bill was opposed by the majority of opposition parties, who considered it a blatant attack on media freedom. It has also been opposed by the Protocol Party, which has been one of PiS’s two junior alliance partners for the past six years.

However, on Wednesday morning, after Prime Minister Mateus Moravitsky fired its leader Yaroslaw Govin, the party withdrew from the alliance.

Gowin and Morawiecki clashed on various issues, including the media bill. He warned on Monday that this would damage Poland’s image and damage its investment environment. “Most importantly, we will work with our main security guarantor, the United States. Completely irrational struggle”.

The withdrawal of the agreement deprived the PiS of a majority of seats in the formal parliament and raised serious questions about the alliance’s reduced ability to pass legislation. These issues were quickly highlighted during Wednesday’s turbulent parliamentary meeting, and PiS lost two other votes.

Polish media law changes are the latest A series of actions PiS undermined media freedom and helped propel the country from 18th to 64th World Press Freedom Index, Lower than Malawi and Armenia in the past five years.

Since coming to power in 2015, PiS has reduced the number of public broadcasters to Cheers, Using the state-owned oil group purchase A large number of local media, and put advertisements of state-owned enterprises to supporting media groups.

Polish media watchdog also Failed to issue Although the application was submitted 18 months ago, it was decided to renew the broadcasting license of TVN’s main news channel TVN24.

The pressure on the Polish media was to dismantle the checks and balances under PiS more widely, during which time the government abolished the Constitutional Court. Trying to clear The Supreme Court, and introduced a disciplinary system for judges, allowing them to be punished for breaking the law The content of their verdict.

The pressure on TVN, one of the largest investments by the United States in Poland, has aroused strong criticism from Washington.Last week, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators released a statement Expressed deep concern about the “continuous democratic regression of the Polish government”.

“We are monitoring the legislation under consideration by the Polish Parliament. If the legislation is passed and signed into law, it will discriminate against non-EU companies and may force major American investors who employ thousands of people to leave Poland,” they said.

“Any decision to implement these laws may have a negative impact on national defense, business, and trade relations.”

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