GB of the PJA strongly condemns putting public media in Poland into liquidation by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz on December 27, 2023. The minister’s destructive action affects Polish media that have a long history of existence – the 105-year-old Polish Press Agency, the 98-year-old Polish Radio and the Polish Television, which has existed for more than 60 years. It escalates the chaos in the management of these companies that Minister Sienkiewicz caused by his earlier actions, exposes them to now unforeseeable financial losses and, above all, destroys their position on the media market in Poland and Europe. Putting the public media into liquidation is a drastic violation of the principle of freedom of speech based on respect for the law, including the law of the media, and is a brutal interference of politicians in the functioning of these media. GB of the PJA calls on the Government of the Republic of Poland to immediately halt the actions destroying the public media – TVP, Polish Radio and PAP (Polish Press Agency) and appeals to the President of the Republic of Poland to take action to save the public media from imminent destruction by politicians of the government of Donald Tusk.
- Public media in independent Poland have existed for 31 years. On December 27, 2023 Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage in the new government of Donald Tusk, put the Polish public media, i.e. TVP (Polish Television), Polish Radio and PAP, into liquidation. The new Minister of Culture from the first day of his office, i.e. December 13, 2023, has been unsuccessfully trying to take them over violating the law that is in force in Poland, against which GB of the Polish Journalists Association protested on December 20, 2023.
- The actions of Minister Sienkiewicz are accompanied by a brutal disinformation campaign, blocking the possibility of broadcasting information programmes on television and removing public media employees from their jobs. For the time being there is no data to assess the scale of this phenomenon, but according to our information hundreds of journalists across the country have already been deprived of their jobs in the public media.
- Since 20th of December 2023, the main information programmes of the public television (TVP) remain blocked, the news channel TVP INFO, TVP WORLD and TVP3 ceased to broadcast, and all political journalism was eliminated. The chaos is deepening, resulting in concrete financial losses at TVP, Polish Radio and the Polish Press Agency.
- People appointed by the current government of Donald Tusk are creating alternative news programmes to replace those that have been operating in the public space so far. A symbol of these actions is the change of the name of the main information programme of the Polish Television existing since 18 November 1989 (35 years) from „Wiadomości (The News)” to the title „19.30”.
- This unprecedented action, which undermines the Polish Constitution, freedom of speech and fundamental civil rights, is made possible by the government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s violation of the elementary principles of the political system of the Polish state: the democratic order of the state of law, where the strength of arguments, not arguments of force, prevail. During the forcible attempts to take over the management boards of public media companies and editorial offices after December 20, 2023, there were physical assaults by unidentified persons on MPs undertaking parliamentary interventions in defence of public media. Despite this, the legally elected authorities of these companies are still in place, gross violations of the law by the new government of Donald Tusk and Minister of Culture Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz are reported to the prosecutor’s office. Every day, hundreds and thousands of Poles gather in front of the headquarters of the public media in our country to protest against such unlawful actions aimed at the public media.
- Fearing the full discredit and failure of the forceful takeover plan of the Polish public media and fearing the verdict of the courts, which might not recognize the neo-authorities thus introduced into the Polish media, the Minister of Culture Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz decided on 27th of December 2023 to close down the Polish public media. This is the only way he can avoid the consequences of the assault on the Polish public media. The liquidation abolishes the obligation to enter the legitimate authorities of media companies into the National Court Register.
- In the opinion of the General Board of the Polish Journalists Association, this is another attack on the Polish public media. It is just as illegal as the previous one. The newly elected authorities are striving by all illegal means to fully control the media space in Poland.
- Putting the public media into liquidation threatens the security of Polish citizens, as the public media are a significant element in the security system of the Polish state and are an indispensable part of it in case of emergency, e.g. war. Russia’s attack on independent Ukraine in 2022 and the ongoing war across Poland’s eastern border shows us all that threats to state security are real.
- Closing down Polish public media threatens the priceless cultural heritage of Poland, part of which are the archives of the Polish Radio, Polish Television and the Polish Press Agency. They should remain intact regardless of changes in the public media authorities. These archives are the most valuable public asset of us all, a legacy of many generations of Polish journalists and media people.
- Since the first day of this disgraceful attack on the public media General Board of the Polish Journalists Association has opposed the methods used by the government of Donald Tusk and his ministers. We announce that we will reach out with our protest to international journalist organizations and wherever democracy, freedom of speech and fundamental civil rights are valued. Today in Poland, these are brutally violated in a way that recalls the grim days of communism, against which we fought with all our might before 1989. Free public media are part of the democratic order in our country and must remain so if Poland is to continue to be a democratic country that respects human rights and respects the principle of freedom of expression.
Warsaw, 28th of December 2023
Krzysztof Skowronski president of PJA
Jolanta Hajdasz, vice-president of PJA
Mariusz Pilis vice-president of PJA
Aleksandra Tabaczynska treasurer of PJA
Hubert Bekrycht secretary general of PJA
Wanda Nadobnik MoB of PJA
Maria Giedz MoB of PJA
Andrzej Klimczak MoB of PJA
Wojciech Pokora MoB of PJA
Grzegorz Radzicki MoB of PJA