Opposition moves to halt controversial ad tax

Polish opposition leaders have said they will hold joint consultations on how to stop a controversial tax on media advertising revenue that some have claimed threatens free speech.

Party leaders also plan to invite Jaroslaw Gowin, a deputy prime minister and leader of the Agreement party, a junior member of the United Right coalition, to the meetings.

Independent media companies have claimed the advertising tax could stifle media pluralism and free speech in Poland, and even drive some media firms into bankruptcy.

On Wednesday many companies imposed a media blackout in protest with news portals, radio stations and television channels suspending normal operations.

"We will invite to the consultations Jaroslaw Gowin, the leader of Agreement who has repeatedly spoken about values such as freedom, entrepreneurship and the need to save jobs," Borys Budka, the leader of Civic Platform, told a press conference held jointly with the leaders of the other parties in the Civic Coalition bloc.

"Yes, Mister Prime Minister, this is the time of trial," Budka said, referring to Gowin. "We believe that together we will be able to work out a good position and block this very harmful bill."

He added that the Civic Coalition also wants to invite Szymon Holownia, a TV personality and Catholic columnist who leads the Poland 2050 grassroots movement.

"Few know the issue of the media as well as the leader of Poland 2050," Budka said. "Today it is a test for all of us about whether we are able to talk about fundamental issues."