EU expresses concern over Polish media bill and impact on press freedom

People take part in a rally to protest against a media bill passed by the Polish parliament which critics say aims to affect the operations of the TVN24 news channel owned by the American company Discovery Inc, in Krakow, Poland, December 19, 2021. Jakub Porzycki / Agencja Wyborcza .pl via REUTERS / File Photo

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BRUSSELS, December 20 (Reuters) – The European Union said on Monday that a Polish law that critics say aims to silence a news channel critical of the government poses serious risks to freedom and media pluralism.

Unexpectedly, the bill was passed by Parliament on Friday, which would tighten rules on foreign media ownership, specifically affecting the capacity of news channel TVN24, owned by US media company Discovery Inc ( DISCA.O), to operate. Read more

“We are following the latest developments with concern,” said a spokesperson for the European Commission at a press conference in Brussels.

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

The bill, which has yet to be enacted by President Andrzej Duda, has worsened relations between Poland, a NATO member state, and the United States at a time of heightened tension in Europe’s l ‘Is on what some countries see as an increased Russian assertion.

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 additional pressure on the media sector in Poland … This could lead to a limitation of media freedom in Poland, where the media landscape is already suffering from increasing politicization,” said the spokesperson said, noting national protests against the bill over the weekend. Read more

Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice Party (PiS) has long said that foreign media groups have too much power in the country and distort public debate.

Critics say the measures against foreign media groups are part of an increasingly authoritarian agenda that has put Warsaw at odds with Brussels over LGBT rights and judicial reforms.

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Reporting by Sabine Siebold; edited by Philip Blenkinsop and Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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