Senate against advertising tax - house speaker

The democratic majority in Poland's Senate (upper house) will not accept the government’s planned tax on business advertising revenue, the house speaker said on Thursday.

Tomasz Grodzki appealed to the government to withdraw from the tax, which he called "an attack on the free media, which are a pillar of democracy."

On Wednesday, Poland's private TV, radio and web operators blocked their regular programmes countrywide in protest against the tax, which they say threatens media freedom and spells financial ruin for many operators.

The protest was joined by several newspapers.

"This is not about money. At stake here is freedom and truth. The media went silent yesterday, they went silent for a short while so that they would not have to remain silent forever. In order to prevent this, the democratic Senate cannot stay silent," Grodzki said in a TV address.

The Senate speaker said he did not doubt that the purpose of the tax was to silence criticism of the government in the independent media, and stressed that the role of free media was to "monitor the government's activities."

Grodzki said the Senate will never accept the tax, nor any attempts to sabotage democracy in Poland.

"I want to state with all certainty, that the democratic majority in the Senate will not accept this attack on the free media, nor any other attempts to undermine our country's democratic system," Grodzki said.