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Media Freedom in Poland: New Bill to Be Passed Alarms Advocates

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Last week, media freedom advocates were alarmed and concerned after Polish lawmakers voted to pass a bill that’s predominantly seen as controversial by many, considering it as a small but sure step towards suppressing media freedom in the country.

Despite the intense debates surrounding the controversial bill, lawmakers still pushed through with its passage, which means it now only needs the President’s and Senate’s approval to be implemented as a law.

The bill was passed with 228 legislators voting in favor of the bill, winning by a slim margin against the 216 legislators who voted against in the parliament’s lower house.

Once the bill is approved by President Andrzej Duda and the country’s Senate, its implementation would prevent non-European investors from owning most shares in Polish media outlets or risk losing their broadcasting licenses due to the violation.

Polish lawmakers have justified the move, stating that the bill’s passage would prevent more hostile nations from spreading their propaganda in the country. However, many have seen the move as a way to discredit TVN, the network responsible for Poland’s most popular news program.

Moving Against the Network TVN

A subsidiary of the US group Discovery Network, TVN has been under close scrutiny in recent years, experiencing heavy fines and even harassment due to its highly critical approach towards the Polish government.

In line with this, Discovery Inc. has said that they will take legal action against the new bill, stating the US-Poland investment treaty as the reason.

According to the company’s CEO, JB Perrette, they are dedicated to protecting not just their investments but also the people, putting the public’s interest and right to freedom of expression at the forefront.

According to the 2015 Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, Poland ranked 15th  on the list but dropped down to 64th place after the country’s currently ruling right-wing party rose to power.

Criticized by the EU and US

Aside from experiencing solid opposition from media freedom advocates in Poland, the new bill has also drawn much criticism from other countries, including the US and the European Union.

Moreover, Věra Jourová, the EU Commission’s Values and Transparency Vice-President, has posted on Twitter, stating that the bill represents a negative sign against the rule of law and media freedom.

According to her, robust democracies support diverse opinions and pluralism in the media, not fight against them. Similarly, Anthony Blinken, the USA’s Secretary of State, has also stated his concerns regarding the new bill, saying he was deeply troubled by the news.

According to the US Secretary of State’s press release on Tuesday, enacting this draft legislation would negatively impact the country’s media environment, something that the Polish people have spent years building and reinforcing.

In addition, Blinken has also stated that signing it into law would undermine the country’s currently strong climate for investments and pose a significant threat against Poland’s right to express themselves freely in the media.

Media Freedom in Poland: New Bill to Be Passed Alarms Advocates

Last week, media freedom advocates were alarmed and concerned after Polish lawmakers voted to pass a bill that’s predominantly seen as controversial by many, considering it as a small but sure step towards suppressing media freedom in the country.

Despite the intense debates surrounding the controversial bill, lawmakers still pushed through with its passage, which means it now only needs the President’s and Senate’s approval to be implemented as a law.

The bill was passed with 228 legislators voting in favor of the bill, winning by a slim margin against the 216 legislators who voted against in the parliament’s lower house.

Once the bill is approved by President Andrzej Duda and the country’s Senate, its implementation would prevent non-European investors from owning most shares in Polish media outlets or risk losing their broadcasting licenses due to the violation.

Polish lawmakers have justified the move, stating that the bill’s passage would prevent more hostile nations from spreading their propaganda in the country. However, many have seen the move as a way to discredit TVN, the network responsible for Poland’s most popular news program.

Moving Against the Network TVN

A subsidiary of the US group Discovery Network, TVN has been under close scrutiny in recent years, experiencing heavy fines and even harassment due to its highly critical approach towards the Polish government.

In line with this, Discovery Inc. has said that they will take legal action against the new bill, stating the US-Poland investment treaty as the reason.

According to the company’s CEO, JB Perrette, they are dedicated to protecting not just their investments but also the people, putting the public’s interest and right to freedom of expression at the forefront.

According to the 2015 Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, Poland ranked 15th  on the list but dropped down to 64th place after the country’s currently ruling right-wing party rose to power.

Criticized by the EU and US

Aside from experiencing solid opposition from media freedom advocates in Poland, the new bill has also drawn much criticism from other countries, including the US and the European Union.

Moreover, Věra Jourová, the EU Commission’s Values and Transparency Vice-President, has posted on Twitter, stating that the bill represents a negative sign against the rule of law and media freedom.

According to her, robust democracies support diverse opinions and pluralism in the media, not fight against them. Similarly, Anthony Blinken, the USA’s Secretary of State, has also stated his concerns regarding the new bill, saying he was deeply troubled by the news.

According to the US Secretary of State’s press release on Tuesday, enacting this draft legislation would negatively impact the country’s media environment, something that the Polish people have spent years building and reinforcing.

In addition, Blinken has also stated that signing it into law would undermine the country’s currently strong climate for investments and pose a significant threat against Poland’s right to express themselves freely in the media.

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