Poland’s ruling coalition is struggling to pass a controversial media law

Updates from Poland

Poland’s ruling party has failed to push through a controversial bill that could force a US media group to sell its controlling stake in Poland’s main independent operator.

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

The proposed legislation is widely regarded as attack against TVN, a broadcaster owned by the American media conglomerate Discovery, which provides frequent critical coverage of the government.

However, amid growing pressure on the PiS-led coalition, which lost one of its three founding parties earlier Wednesday, opposition parties managed to pass a proposal to suspend the parliamentary session until September. It was not immediately clear whether PiS would be able to lift the postponement later Wednesday.

PiS MPs say changes to Poland’s media law are needed to prevent companies from non-democracies from taking control of Polish media groups.

Jaros Kaczynski, leader of PiS, said on Saturday that Poland must prevent money launderers and “drug trafficking” from entering the country’s media sector.

However, the bill opposes most opposition parties, which see it as a brazen attack on media freedoms. He also opposes the agreement, which has been one of PiS’s two young coalition partners for the past six years.

However, the party withdrew from the coalition on Wednesday morning after Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki fired its leader, Jaroslav Govin.

Gowin clashed with Moravetsky on various issues, including a media bill that warned Monday that it would damage Poland’s image, damage its investment climate and “most of all expose us to a completely irrational battle with our main security guarantor.” , USA “.

The withdrawal of the agreement deprived PiS of its official parliamentary majority, raising serious questions about the reduced coalition’s ability to pass legislation. They were quickly highlighted during a tumultuous parliamentary session on Wednesday, where PiS also lost two other votes.

The change in the Polish media law is the latest in a a series of moves from PiS, which undermined media freedoms and helped push the country from 18th to 64th place in the World Press Freedom Index, under Malawi and Armenia, over the last half decade.

After coming to power in 2015, PiS reduced public television to the applause, uses a state oil group to buy numerous local media and targeted advertising from state-owned companies to supporting media groups.

The Polish media observer also has failed to issue a decision to renew the broadcasting license for TVN’s main news channel, TVN24, although the application was submitted 18 months ago.

The pressure on the Polish media comes against the backdrop of a broader abolition of the PiS control and balance mechanisms, during which the government castrated the constitutional tribunal, tried to clear The Supreme Court and introduced a disciplinary regime for judges that allows them to be punished for the content of their decisions.

The pressure on TVN, one of the largest US investments in Poland, has drawn strong criticism from Washington. Last week, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators released statement expressing deep concern about the “continuing democratic retreat of the Polish government”.

“We are watching the legislation being discussed in the Polish parliament, which, if passed and signed, would discriminate against companies outside the EU and would likely expel a large US investor employing several thousand people from Poland,” they said.

“Any decision to implement these laws can have negative consequences for defense, business and trade relations.”

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