Junior ruling coalition partner threatens to vote against media draft

A junior partner in Poland's ruling coalition has threatened not to support a draft media law, which critics say targets a US-owned television news channel, if its own amendment is not included in the bill.

The draft amendment to the media law, which was lodged by MPs from Law and Justice (PiS) in early July, is aimed at preventing companies from outside the European Economic Area from taking control of Polish radio and television stations.

The proposed amendment has increased fears that the PiS-dominated government, which has sometimes accused foreign-owned media of having an anti-Polish bias and failing to represent what it regards as Polish interests, is taking aim at the US-owned TVN television network in an attempt to silence it.

TVN, through its news channel TVN24, has been highly critical of the United Right ruling coalition, which is dominated by Law and Justice.

Stanislaw Bukowiec, an MP belonging to Agreement, a junior member of the coalition, said on Tuesday that the aim of the amendment lodged by his party is to include "the countries, which have solid economic relations with Poland, into the list of states covered by the ruling party's draft."

"We want the draft to include OECD countries," he said. "Our amendment will strengthen pluralism of mass media in Poland and will improve economic relations with the US.

"It is either our amendment and the inclusion of OECD countries, like the US, Canada and Australia, with which Poland has been cooperating, or Agreement will not support the media draft," he said. "There are only these two options."

The amendment could defuse growing tensions between Poland and the United States owing to the media law and the apparent threat it poses to American investment in Poland and to the free media.

Bukowiec added that he thought Russia would never be able to join the OECD, since despite "being an aspiring country, it has lost the possibility to join after its invasion of Ukraine."

TVN24 has also been struggling to get a renewal of its broadcasting licence from state media regulator KRRiT since February 2020. Its current licence expires in September.