EC says new law threatens media freedom and pluralism in Poland

A spokesman for the European Commission (EC) has said that Poland's new media bill, dubbed 'lex TVN,' could threaten media freedom and pluralism in Poland by forcibly changing the ownership structure of media companies.

Christian Wigand told reporters in Brussels on Monday that the Commission had been following the recent developments in Poland "with deep concern."

He added that the EC expected member states to uphold a state in which neither politics nor legislation have a negative impact on their obligation to protect a free, independent and diversified media sector.

On Friday the lower house of the Polish parliament passed the bill, which will, Wigand continued, place further pressure on the media sector in Poland.

Under the law, which now just requires the signature of President Andrzej Duda to go on the statute books, ownership of media companies in Poland would be limited to entities based in the European Economic Area. The new legislation could force Discovery Inc. to sell its controlling share of TVN, Poland's largest television network.

According to its critics, the legislation targets TVN, which has been critical of the government, while also undermining independent media in Poland.

But, Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, said on Monday that the aim of the new regulations was to tighten the media law in order to make sure it does not fail, a result that could be considered as "proof of the state's weak authority".

The prime minister also said that similar regulations regarding foreign investors, or even more restrictive ones, have been in force in Germany, France or Austria.

He added that he wanted identical standards to be applied to all EU member countries.

"I want the European Union to be a union of equal states," he said, adding that this was the condition of whether we had been discriminated or equally treated.