Opposition leader joins protest against new media law

Poland's opposition leader Donald Tusk joined a protest in the defence of free mass media and against a new media law in front of the Sejm (lower house) in Warsaw on Tuesday.

"The authorities want to eliminate independent mass media since they are aware that the truth is their most dangerous opponent," Tusk, the former prime minister and president of the European Council, said, reading a Civic Platform statement.

According to Tusk, independent media, together with independent courts and the observance of rights of minority groups, are what makes democracy different from dictatorship.

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 the European Economic Area (EEA) countries can be granted a broadcasting licence, provided they are not dependent on entities from outside the EEA.

"The goal of the amended media law is the return to a communist-era pattern of uniformed mass media, single message and single propaganda," Tusk stated, adding that this pattern was designed to secure impunity to the authorities.

The bill's critics believe it is an attack on the US-owned TVN network and its TVN24 news channel. The proposed media act could prevent TVN24 from extending its September-expiring broadcasting licence in Poland.

The Tuesday demonstration was organised to protest against a controversial proposal to change the country’s media law which threatens foreign investment.