Ex-ruling party MP claims new media law is hoax

A rebel MP who left the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has said that the controversial draft law that would prevent foreign companies from taking control of Polish radio and television stations is meant to cover up rifts in the ruling coalition.

On Wednesday, a group of MPs from the PiS party lodged a draft amendment to the media law that would prevent companies outside the European Economic Area from taking control of Polish radio and television stations.

But Zbigniew Girzynski, once a prominent voice in Law and Justice before joining Polish Affairs, a group of five MPs, said the initiative was a diversion meant to cover up deeper problems in the United Right coalition, of which PiS is the leader.

"Everybody knows that the law will not go through, there's no consent to that even in the United Right camp," Girzynski told private television channel Polsat News on Friday.

"It is a media hoax meant to divert attention from the fact that important talks are taking place behind the scenes that concern the New Polish Deal, that there is no consent around it and that will be difficult to push through," Girzynski claimed.

The Polish New Deal is the government's multi-billion flagship investment and reform programme meant to give a new boost to the Polish economy in the coming years. The programme is based on the EU's special funds designed to help European economies emerge from the coronavirus crisis.

But two small PiS allies, the nationalist Solidary Poland led by Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro and the more liberal Agreement party led by Jaroslaw Gowin, a deputy prime minister, are rumoured to have opposed a number of points in the reform programme, which has been heavily promoted by Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister, and PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

"An additional thing is being thrown in to make a deal," Girzynski said. "Jaroslaw Gowin will be told: 'Listen, you'll get a win, we'll not be doing this media law, but in return can you at least support our Polish Deal solutions."

"Everyone inside politics can see it," Girzynski claimed.

The new draft law, which some see as targeted against the US-owned TVN24 television channel which is critical of the government, triggered fierce protests from the opposition as well as from the television station itself.

TVN24 has been struggling to renew its licence with the state media regulator KRRiT since February 2020. Its current licence expires in September.

On Thursday evening, the US charge d'affaires in Warsaw Bix Aliu wrote on Twitter: "The US has been observing the TVN licensing process and the newly proposed legislation with rising concern. TVN has been an essential part of the Polish media landscape for over 20 years."