PES stands with Lewica against PiS attempt to undermine media freedom

PES stands with Lewica against PiS attempt to undermine media freedom

The Party of European Socialists condemns Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party for its latest attempt to silence critical media. The PES stands with Lewica in opposition to the government’s new media law.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“PiS has critical media in its crosshairs once again. It is no surprise that the news channel most affected by this bill is one of the government’s biggest critics. This is a shameless attack on freedom of speech and the independence of the media.  We are extremely concerned by this move.
“Instead of trying to undermine the future of TVN24 news and others, PiS should concentrate on building a strong recovery from the coronavirus crisis. This is what matters to citizens.
“Poland is sadly drifting further and further away from a democratic, pluralistic, society. PiS will not stop until power lies completely in their hands. I hope the opposition will come together in the Senate to firmly reject this media bill. The eyes of Europe and the world are watching.”

The PES strongly supports the thousands of people who took to the streets in rallies across Poland on Tuesday to oppose the draft law. We commend Lewica for driving opposition to the bill in Sejm and condemn the political games of PiS. On Wednesday afternoon Sejm speaker Elzbieta Witek – a PiS member – overturned a successful opposition motion to postpone the media bill vote until September. The new procedural vote called by Witek was successful for the government, allowing the bill to pass to the next legislative stage.

The media law proposed by PiS would prevent companies from outside the European Economic Area from holding a controlling stake in Polish media companies. If passed, it would undermine independent news channels, which are often owned by outside investors, often based in the USA.

Polish government tried to justify the move as an attempt to prevent Chinese and Russian media to influence the country. The polish news channel TVN24's parent, TVN, is owned by the U.S.-based media group Discovery Inc (DISCA.O) via a firm registered in the Netherlands, but the Polish ruling party ignored that as well and pushed against the independent tv channel.