Poland uses new hiring and firing powers to reshuffle state media

Heavily criticized media reforms came into effect in Poland on Friday, prompting a reshuffle in the country's public broadcasting sector despite concerns from the European Union over state interference.

Former conservative European Parliament member Jacek Kurski was named the new head of public television broadcaster TVP.

Treasurer Dawid Jackiewicz, who described Kurski as a "guarantee for the return of balance in public media," also announced government-appointed replacements for other leading positions in public broadcasting.

President Andrzej Duda signed the law into effect on Thursday, giving the conservative government in Warsaw the power to hire and fire broadcast executives.

Newly-appointed Kurski has pledged his commitment to protecting the "freedom and independence of public broadcasting from the world of politics," in a statement in which he draws comparisons with the BBC, where he has previously worked.

He also emphasized the importance of national unity in Poland and laid out ambitions to turn TVP into a medium "that can unite Poles to follow great goals."

Kurski succeeds Janusz Daszczynski, who resigned on Thursday after just a few months in the role and criticized the new regulations as anti-democratic in an open letter published by the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper.

There were also personnel changes in the top management at Polish Radio, which has - alongside TVP - been redefined as a "national cultural institute" under the new law, PAP news agency reported.

The radio station's prime-time news presenter, Kamil Dabrowa, who has been alternately playing the European anthem and the Polish national anthem every hour on his show in protest against tightening state controls, has been fired, the report said.

Poland has come under sharp criticism from the European Union over its implementation of the new media law.

At a meeting in Brussels Friday, Poland's European Affairs Minister Konrad Szymanski sought to de-escalate the spat with the EU amid rumours of potential disciplinary action.

Last update: Fri, 08/01/2016 - 20:43

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