Polish minister defends new media law, rejects EU criticism

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski defended his country's controversial new media law in a newspaper interview published Monday, amid EU criticism of the conservative government for increasing its control over broadcasters.

The new law defines the broadcasters TVP and Polish Radio as "national cultural institutes" and gives the government power to appoint new executives. The mandate of the current directors is to expire with immediate effect.

The legislation has been passed by both houses of parliament, but still requires the signature of Polish President Andrzej Duda to take effect.

"We merely want to heal our state of some diseases," Waszczykowski told German daily Bild, adding that the media had pursued a left-wing agenda, promoting a "mix of cultures and races, a world of cyclists and vegetarians that ... fight every form of religion."

"That has nothing to do any more with traditional, Polish values," he added.

"At present, the media are reporting extremely one-sidedly against our government," Waszczykowski later noted.

The European Commission is due to discuss the situation in Poland at its next top-level meeting of commissioners on January 13, according to a spokeswoman for the European Union's executive.

In an initial step, the commission can enter into dialogue with Warsaw under a new mechanism aimed at preventing threats to the rule of law in the EU, introduced in 2014. Poland could ultimately face a suspension of voting rights in the 28-country bloc.

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans wrote to Warsaw last week requesting information on the new media law. It follows an earlier letter raising concerns about reforms to the constitutional court.

The European Broadcasting Union has lambasted the broadcasting law, urging the Polish authorities to "resist any temptation to strengthen political control over the media."

In Poland meanwhile, four of TVP's programme directors have stepped down, Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper reported Saturday.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49
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