EU: Concern over press freedom in Poland

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THE European Union aannounced today that one Polish law, which critics say is aimed at silencing a government-run news television station, poses serious risks for freedom of the media and pluralism.

The legislation, which was passed unexpectedly and hastily by parliament on Friday, will tighten rules around foreign media ownership, specifically affecting the operation of TVN24, which is owned by US-based media company Discovery Inc.

“We are following the latest developments with concern,” a European Commission spokesman told a news conference in Brussels.

The commission expects EU Member States to ensure that their policies and laws do not undermine their commitment to a free, independent and diverse media sector, he said.

The bill, which has not yet been signed into law by President Andrei Duda, has strained relations between Poland, a NATO member state and the United States at a time of heightened tension in Eastern Europe.

The European Commission has said it will closely monitor developments in Poland, as the law could lead to forced changes in the ownership structure of media companies.

“The vote, which took place on Friday, puts further pressure on the media in Poland … It could lead to restrictions on media freedom in Poland, where the media landscape is already suffering from growing politicization.” said a spokesman for the commission, noting the protests that took place across Poland over the weekend against the bill.

The ruling nationalist Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS) has long argued that foreign media outlets have too much power in the country and distort public debate.

Critics say the moves against foreign media groups are part of an increasingly authoritarian agenda that has brought Warsaw and Brussels into dispute over LGBTQ rights and judicial reform.

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