Agnieszka Holland among activists calling on US vice president over TVN

A group of six Polish women including film director Agnieszka Holland have written to US Vice-President Kamala Harris to raise the alarm over what they call "a serious threat to freedom of speech in Poland" over TVN's struggle to renew its licence.

A controversial proposal to change the Poland’s media law, prepared by the MPs from ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, specifies that only entities headquartered in European Economic Area (EEA) countries can be granted a broadcasting licence, provided they are not dependent on entities from outside the EEA.

TVN is a US-owned TV station in Poland that has been critical of the Law and Justice-led government. Many observers believe the amendment to the media bill is aimed at silencing the station. TVN24, a news channel owned by TVN, has been trying to renew its licence since February 2020. Its current licence expires on September 26.

Other activists signing the letter to Harris included Marta Lempart, a social activist and initiator of the National Women's Strike protest movement, and Magdalena Środa, a renowned philosopher and Warsaw University professor.

"The current government of our country intends, through a change in the law, to not renew the licence of an independent, professional information channel (TVN24), highly valued by citizens, whose owner is the American Discovery company," the activists wrote in the letter.

They expressed "huge concern" over the legal amendment tabled by the ruling party, arguing that it threatened a "drastic limitation of free public debate and the circulation of independent information in Poland."

"The only source of information will become public television, which is entirely subordinate to the interests of the ruling party," the women stated.

The activists signing the letter also requested "all those who have democracy and freedom of speech in Poland close to their hearts," to also sign the appeal.