Public media radio presenters write an open letter. They are afraid of the connection with TVP

Luc Williams

Depriving regional public radio stations of their current status as independent companies and merging them with Polish Television’s field centers “will impoverish the media and cultural landscape of individual regions and make us incapable of fulfilling missionary tasks” – employees of radio companies warn in a letter to the Prime Minister and Minister of Culture , Marshals of the Sejm and Senate and the Sejm Committee for Culture and Media.

“We will become a regional radio station,” write the authors of the letter, which was written in connection with information appearing in the public space about the planned merger of regional television centers with 17 regional radio stations.

Changes in the media are needed

Radio people admit that a new media law is necessary. “We see the need for changes that will lead to order and independence of the public service media from the world of politics. We are not against them and declare cooperation,” say employees of regional radio stations.

The action was organized on Radio Lublin. As its employees inform us, the letter is a grassroots initiative. 741 people signed it – journalists, producers, technicians, IT specialists, employees of administrative departments, etc. – from 14 regional radio stations. The signatories of the letter constitute approximately 61 percent. total number of employees in these companies.

The authors of the letter also want to establish the Grupa 17 association, bringing together radio station employees from all over Poland. The founding meeting is to be held soon in Lublin.

Radio journalists appeal to the state authorities and parliamentarians to invite them to discuss the new act regulating the functioning of public media. “We expect the right to full information about planned changes and access to people creating the project of a new media order in Poland,” they write. “We cannot imagine that our voice could be ignored in a democratic country,” they add, emphasizing that the creators of new regulations should be guided by the interests of radio listeners.

“This is regional radio with a large number fast information services is the first, basic source of information for listeners. Television produces much less of them and uses different methods. An attempt to combine media with such different specificities as radio and television will, in practice, negatively affect the speed and quality of information provision,” they argue.

From the beginning, there were 17 regional companies

Why don’t radio broadcasters want to merge with TVP? Because, in their opinion, it will be “irrational for substantive and organizational reasons” because both media “use different means of communication.” Their combination may also lead to a reduction in “the development of radio art in favor of television productions that are several times more expensive.”

The savings achieved by reducing employment may be illusory, especially when “income from radio advertising goes to the common radio and television budget and “disappears in the huge costs generated by television.” Funds from the planned audiovisual fee may suffer a similar fate.

Currently, public radio and television are separate entities. They operate as State Treasury companies established under the Broadcasting Act. The first version from over 30 years ago (i.e. Journal of Laws of 1993, item 34) provided that Telewizja Polska was to operate as one company with local branches. A total of 18 companies were established for radio: Polish Radio with nationwide programs and 17 regional radio stations – w Białystok, Bydgoszcz, Gdańsk, Katowice, Kielce, Kraków, Koszalin, Lublin, Łódź, Opole, Olsztyn, Poznań, Rzeszów, Szczecin, Warsaw, Wrocław and Zielona Góra.

Despite many amendments to the Radio and Television Act – including those related to the new governments taking over influence over public media – this organizational structure has been maintained.

The coalition that last October won the elections, it has not yet presented its draft amendment to these regulations. However, announcements of reform appear more and more often in the public debate.

The chairman of the parliamentary committee on culture and media, Bogdan Zdrojewski (KO), announced a new media law on Radio Zet for the first half of this year.

Project “Citizen media”

The most advanced is the model of changes in public media, which was developed by a team of experts under the supervision of former president of TVP and chairman of the National Broadcasting Council Jan Dworak: prof. Stanisław Jędrzejewski, prof. Monika Kaczmarek-Śliwińska, legal advisor Karol Kościński, prof. Tadeusz Kowalski and Jacek Weksler.

The assumptions of the “Civic Media” Act resulting from this model were written by Karol Kościński. With regard to the structure of public media, they envisage the merger of regional radio companies and local TVP branches.

The aim of this process is “to create entities capable of conducting programming activities in the regions in a way that meets the needs of modern media recipients.” The change is intended to increase the programming, technical and economic potential of regional media companies. “This indirectly serves to strengthen the local government structure of Poland, ensuring a greater presence of public media in regional communities,” we read in the assumptions of the act of November 28 last year.

More people willing to debate

Radio Kraków, Radio Zachód in Zielona Góra and Radio PIK in Bydgoszcz do not take part in the action of public radio employees.

However, other bodies also want to participate in the discussion on the new media order. In January appeal to the Sejm and Senate regarding the structure of the future public media submitted, among others, Journalists’ Society, Association of Journalists and Public Radio Creators and the main board of the Association of Journalists of the Republic of Poland.

They appeal to include former and current public media journalists recommended by associations and trade unions in the work on the reform; civic organizations that fought to depoliticize public media; as well as representatives of the academic community and non-governmental organizations.

The authors of this appeal propose the “Citizen media” project as a basis for starting work on a new media law. They also emphasize that “only effective separation of public media from politicians will guarantee them pluralism, reliability and objectivity, and the ability to implement their mission.”


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