President to consider constitutional obligations over media bill - press

Poland's president has said in an interview with the Polska Times newspaper that he will consider his constitutional obligations when deciding whether to sign a media reform bill.

Passed by the Sejm, the lower house of parliament, in August, the legislation introduces an amendment to Poland's media law that limits ownership of Polish media companies to entities based in the European Economic Area.

Critics have suggested the bill is an attempt to silence government-critical US-owned broadcaster TVN.

Asked about the possibility of a veto, Andrzej Duda told the Polska Times newspaper that the issue was not only about Polish-US relations, although they were also important as TVN is an American investor. However, his constitutional obligations were the most important consideration, he said.

"And now a question has to be asked - are the proposed measures really consistent with the principle of economic freedom, which we have written in the Polish Constitution?" he said in an interview to be published on Friday, extracts of which were made available on the polskatimes.pl website on Thursday.

He said he had to answer that question himself as president. "And the issue of our relations in the international sphere is, in this case, a secondary issue," he continued.

The president went on to say he would consider "how we will be perceived generally by foreign investors. Not only American investors but also investors from various other countries, and we have many of them, very many and there is interest at the moment - really, believe me - in huge investments in Poland."

In this context, Duda mentioned confidential talks with a big American investor, which is "considering a serious investment in Poland" as well as talks with a huge Korean company also considering a large investment.

"Let just those two examples show that there are really thousands of potential jobs," he said. "They also mean significant income for the Polish budget, at least from taxes. These are serious issues and we absolutely can't deter foreign investors."

Duda explained that he was an advocate of the 're-Polonisation' of media but this should be through market forces. "Media are bought, normally on the free market, according to market principles," he explained. "If Polish entities can afford it, and there are those that can afford it, then I encourage that. Let's re-Polonise media, but on market principles."

 The polskatimes.pl website reported that it had asked Duda directly if he would veto the media reform bill and that he had replied that first it must reach him. "It seems to me I've already said enough," the president said.