Junior ruling party to oppose media law changes without own amendment

Agreement, a junior member of Poland's ruling United Right coalition, has said it will not vote for a controversial amendment to the media law unless its own provisions are included in the bill.

A party spokesman said Agreement had lodged a proposal to include OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries in the list of those entitled to receive a radio or TV broadcasting licence.

The draft amendment, tabled by MPs from Law and Justice (PiS), the dominant party in Poland’s United Right coalition party, specifies that only entities headquartered in European Economic Area (EEA) countries can be granted a licence, provided they are not dependent on entitled from outside the EEA.

On Tuesday the Sejm (lower house) Culture and Media Committee rejected a similar proposal tabled by an Agreement MP.

But Agreement, in a move that could open up divisions in the United Right, remains determined to get its proposal accepted.

"We will table this amendment as a minority motion. If the amendment is not accepted, Agreement will not support that bill," Agreement spokesman Jan Stzezek told PAP.

He stated that the amendment, if accepted, would allow all media currently functioning in Poland to continue to broadcast normally.

Critics of the PiS bill have claimed it is intended to silence US-owned TV station TVN, which has been critical of the government and is currently striving to renew its licence.

The possibility of TVN falling foul of the PiS bill has already worried the US government, and raised fears in Poland over the health of the free media in the country.

"As Agreement we are advocates of media freedoms," Strzezek said. "Freedom is one of the values enlightening the emergence of the United Right. We would like continue to deliver on our promise."