The new government in Poland must avoid politicization of the media (REPORT)

Luc Williams

The fragment regarding Poland was included in the annual report prepared by organizations associated with the Platform for the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists. This document contains recommendations for member states Council of Europe and UnionEuropean.

The authors estimate that in Poland “during the eight years of government (…) the party Law and Justice (PIS) managed to transform public media into a tool of government propaganda” and “endangered media pluralism”. The new government – as the document says – intends to “change this situation, but must avoid further politicization of public media and regulators.”

Right actions, but reservations about methods

The authors of the report stipulate that the events described in it in Poland concern the period until January this year. Then – as they recall – the authorities were dismissed by the new Minister of Culture public media (Polish Radio, Polish Television and Polish Press Agency), new authorities were appointed, and then – after the veto of the budget-related act – liquidators.

“Without a doubt, decisive action should be taken in relation to problems in public media. They are a clear example of what public media should not be like – propaganda and supporting one political party, used to gain an advantage in elections,” write the authors of the report. They further add: “however, media experts and Platform (for the Protection of Journalism) partners expressed reservations about the methods used, encouraging the (new) government to adopt lasting and comprehensive legal and institutional changes to resolve the situation, while involving experts and civil society in decision making.”

“Although rapid changes are necessary, the partners of the Platform for the Safety of Journalists call for the establishment of legal and institutional safeguards against political interference. There are many analyzes and studies of the Polish media sector, and even projects of comprehensive media reforms, already prepared by civil society , journalistic organizations and academia. They can serve as the basis for these reforms,” ​​the report emphasizes.

The threats are becoming more and more diverse

Overall, the document, titled 'Media freedom in Europe – time to turn things around', highlights that the threats, pressures and constraints under which journalists have to do their work are becoming more and more diverse. Among the “new threats” to the profession, the report lists, for example, impact artificial intelligence (AI), social mediaas well as “the political climate dominated by radicalization and polarization“.

The authors of the report point out that “various positive initiatives were undertaken in 2023, proving that governments are increasingly aware of the danger that (lawsuits) pose to democracy.” SLAPP” Among other things, the European Union has adopted a directive on the protection of journalists against so-called SLAPPs. These are lawsuits filed by influential entities, corporations and state bodies due to alleged defamation or damage to reputation.

In the context of the European Parliament elections to be held in June 2024, it was recalled that media freedom is a condition for fair and free elections.

Russia's aggression against Ukraine has changed a lot

Describing the media situation in Eastern Europe in 2023, the authors of the report emphasized that Russia's aggression against Ukraine “has a great impact on media freedom and the safety of journalists.”

The situation of Russian journalists, even those who have left the country, is rapidly deteriorating. Almost half of journalists have encountered threats while abroad. In herself Russia and censorship and restrictions reach “new levels” in 2023. However, in Belarus, at least 31 journalists were imprisoned in connection with their work, the report emphasized.

The document was prepared by several international journalist organizations associated with the Platform for the Safety of Journalists, which has been cooperating with the Council of Europe since 2014. (PAP)


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