And according to the Chairman of the National Broadcasting Council of Poland Jan Dworak, it turns the clock back to the 1980s. In those days Dworak was Editor-in-Chief of Glos Wolny. He played a big part in Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement, agitating for human rights against the Communist government. Now Poland is an EU member state with all that that means for press freedom. The new law has caused outrage in Brussels and Digital Rights Commissioner Günther Oettinger is investigating whether it contravenes the rule of law.
A number of leading TV executives have resigned, including TVP’s Katarzyna Janowska and the famous moderator Tomasz Lis. The ECPMF has expressed solidarity with them and joined a chorus of disapproval against the new law from human rights groups and journalists’ unions across Europe.
Interviewed by ECPMF, Jan Dworak of the Broadcasting Council of Poland (KRRiT) commented that some of those who resigned are the same critical jounalists who were sacked the last time the ruling Law and Justice Party (pol.: Prawo i Sprawiedliwość/PiS) came to power, ten years ago.
ECPMF: What was the build-up to this new broadcasting Law? Did it come as a surprise?
Dworak: Actually the changes were announced by the Law and Justice Party before the election on October 25th, so we knew then.
What is its effect?
The new law has only just been signed so up to now, there is only expectation and nervousness on the board and also between the advertisers. The actual changes will bring a totally new reality very fast, even by tomorrow.
Several Senior TV executives, who are respected journalists, have resigned in protest. What is your reaction to these resignations?
This is entirely a personal decision for the persons concerned, and these decisions should be regarded with respect. Some professionals treat their work not as a job but as a mission and they are concerned about maintaining the highest journalistic standards. Some of them had previously been suddenly dismissed from their jobs the last time the Law and Justice Party was in power, ten years ago.