Regulator renews licence of US-owned TV news station TVN24

Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

A US-owned news channel at the heart of a debate over free media in Poland has been granted an extension to its broadcasting licence just days before it expired.

TVN24, known for its government-critical stance, has been struggling to get its licence renewed for one and a half years. Its current permit was set to expire on September 26.

On Wednesday, Poland's media regulator, KRRiT, announced that it had voted in favour of extending an operating licence for the broadcaster, which is owned by US company Discovery.

"Today, the National Broadcasting Council has completed the procedure regarding the license for the TVN24 news programme," KRRiT's spokesperson Teresa Brykczyńska said.

She added that "an absolute majority of votes was achieved - four in favour of granting the license and one against."

Before the vote, the KRRiT unanimously adopted a resolution on "taking measures to organise the rules of broadcasting radio and television programmes in Poland regarding the possibilities of the operations of entities from outside the European Economic Area."

Brykczyńska said the resolution was necessary to make a decision on the licence for TVN24.

In mid-August, the lower house of parliament adopted an amendment to Poland's Broadcasting Act tabled by MPs from the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party. It specifies that only entities headquartered in European Economic Area (EEA) countries can be granted a broadcasting licence, provided they are not dependent on entities from outside the EEA.

Also in mid-August, Discovery obtained a Dutch licence for its news channel, TVN24.

The amendment, along with TVN24’s struggle to gets its licence renewed, had increased concerns in Poland that the government, through state authorities, was trying silence media critical of it.