Each country has right to modify its regulations: PM on Broadcasting Act

The amendment to the Broadcasting Act will open the possibility for the Polish regulator to be involved in the potential acquisition of shares by entities from outside the European Economic Area, said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Thursday, adding that each country has the right to improve its regulations.

The prime minister referred to a recent statement by US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimongo in which she stressed that “efforts to restrict US investment in Poland will damage the US and Polish economies and undercut our shared commitment to a free and fair media”.

Critics of the proposed amendment voiced their concern that it was directed against the private TV broadcaster TVN, currently in talks with the National Broadcasting Council regarding the extension of their license. TVN is owned by the US giant Discovery, but it manages the station through the Polish Television Holding BV, registered in the Netherlands.

"Of course, we would like the best relations, but we are a sovereign state and we will decide in the best interest of the Polish state,” the PM stated, adding that the media in Poland is "absolutely dominated by foreign entities".

"I would not want to offend any of the countries in the world, but there are some countries on the OECD list which most of us would not want their entities to purchase the Polish media. (...) Russia is an aspiring country and probably in a few years' time it will have a chance to join the OECD, so just being on the OECD list is not a good criterion,” the Polish PM said, adding that in his opinion, "in this case, the tightening of this regulation is absolutely justified".

The draft amendment to the Broadcasting Act was submitted by MPs of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) in mid-July. It indicates that "a license to transmit radio and television programmes may be granted to a foreign person whose seat or permanent residence is in a Member State of the European Economic Area, provided that such a foreign person is not dependent on a foreign person whose seat or permanent residence is in a non EU state or outside the European Economic Area.”

Meanwhile, a coalition partner of the PiS party, the Agreement led by Jarosław Gowin, wants to prepare amendments to the draft similar to the regulations included in the COVID-19 act on anti-takeover regulations, from which countries from the EU, European Economic Area and OECD are exempted. This would exclude the takeover of Polish media by Russia, China and Arab countries.