Polish media open to takeover by Russian, Chinese entities, says PM
The Polish prime minister has said that under current laws Polish media can be taken over by entities from Russia or China, and that "we don't want such a state of affairs."
Mateusz Morawiecki appeared to be reacting to the harsh domestic and international criticism of a draft amendment of the media law, tabled by MPs from his Law and Justice party, that aims to restrict ownership of Polish media companies to firms from the European Economic Area (EEA).
This will be done by a proposed regulation under which a TV broadcasting licence can only be granted to an entity headquartered in a member state of the EEA on the condition that it is not dependent on an entity from outside the EEA.
Critics say the amendment aims to silence TVN, and American-owned TV station that has been critical of the current government.
But the government has denied this, arguing that similar laws are already in place in other EU countries.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Morawiecki said that at the moment Polish media could be taken over by entities from Russia, China or Arab countries.
"Do we want such a legal state of affairs?" he asked. "It seems to me that we don't. It seems to me that it is obvious that a serious country must have regulatory instruments to be able to respond to that type of risk."
The controversial amendment was taken up for work on Tuesday by the Sejm's (lower house) Culture and Media Committee.
But perhaps in an attempt to defuse tensions with the United States, which has already voiced its concerns over the TVN situation, the Agreement Party, a junior member of the ruling coalition, said it wanted the amendment changed to have European Economic Area replaced with the geographically broader OECD.
Despite this, opposition MP's from the Civic Coalition, Polish People's Party and the Left as well as of the Polska 2050 movement favour the bill's rejection.
But Morawicki defended the bill.
"A serious country has its rules, which must primarily define the framework within which businesspeople from various sectors act, especially in those sectors that have concessions," he said.
"The bill in progress is not aimed at harming anybody, only simply to civilise our relations as a fully-fledged partner that can act on the basis of reciprocity, for example with other countries (and) entities," he continued. "To date that regulation already exists but, unfortunately - as it transpires - it was imprecise and therefore led to such risks as have materialised."