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A contested media reform bill will be voted on today in Warsaw amid widespread protests over the proposal. The bill aims to tighten media ownership rules under Poland’s broadcast media law. But critics argue the bill is intended to silence an independent channel known to be critical of Government policy.
The proposed changes would prevent stations from being majority-owned by investors outside the European Economic Area, it is understood.
But many have seen the proposals as an attempt to suppress channel TVN24, which many Polish people rely on for their news.
The channel is owned by US company Discovery, and the bill could mean it loses its licence to broadcast.
But Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has argued the bill will help to protect Poland from external influences.
He said at a news conference this week: “It is through the media that other countries influence our social life.”
The proposal has sparked turmoil in Poland, not just among protesting citizens, but also politicians.
On Tuesday, the future of the coalition government was pulled into question as Poland’s deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Gowin, was dismissed.
The Accord party, of which Mr Gowin is the leader, opposed the changes to the broadcast media law in its current form.
The Accord party has long been part of the United Right coalition, which has ruled Poland since 2014.
But without the backing of the Accord party, the United Right coalition loses a crucial number of votes.
In light of this week’s events, the United Right coalition no longer has its one-vote majority.
The United Right now consists of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and coalition partner United Poland.
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But as Politico reports, the coalition will have to convince Accord politicians independently to back the bill if there is any chance of it passing.
Despite firing the party leader of a junior coalition partner, a government spokesman said it was confident the Polish government can pass the bill on Wednesday.
Spokesman Piotr Muller told public broadcaster Polskie Radio 1: “I am counting on it that questions related to the media law will gain a majority in parliament and I am sure that the United Right government will continue to function.”
As well as rocking Polish politics, the proposed bill has caused tension between the US and Poland, according to reports.
Mr Gowin said the changes to the media law could alienate the US, which would be a great concern to Poland.
As a key NATO ally, it is arguably in Poland’s interest to maintain a good relationship with the US.
Wirtualna Polska reported there are fears in Warsaw that the Biden administration is considering moving US troops out of Poland in response to the proposed media law.
The publication reported that according to unofficial information from the Polish Armed Forces, the adoption of an amendment to the act on the National Broadcasting Council may lead to the US moving its troops to Romania “in the worst possible scenario”.
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