Polish private broadcaster fined over coverage of MP protests
PR dla Zagranicy
Poland’s media regulator has imposed a fine on private television broadcaster TVN over its coverage of protests in the country’s parliament in December last year.
The National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) slapped the PLN 1.48 million (some EUR 350,000, USD 410,000) fine on the broadcaster's TVN24 around-the-clock news station on Monday.
According to the wpolityce.pl news website, the station has been punished for its “biased coverage of political events” and for “siding with” the opposition.
But critics said the decision could harm freedom of the media in the country.
In December 2016, Polish media extensively covered a sit-in protest by opposition lawmakers in the lower house of parliament, triggered by the exclusion of a deputy from the house’s proceedings and by planned changes to rules governing the work of journalists in the chamber.
The National Broadcasting Council said in a statement on Monday that “after conducting proceedings regarding the method of coverage of events in and outside parliament on Dec. 16-18, 2016,” it concluded that the broadcaster infringed the law.
According to a report by the wpolityce.pl news website, TVN24 infringed the law “by promoting unlawful activities and encouraging behaviour that threatens security.”
The opposition's sit-in protest in the lower house lasted almost four weeks amid a political crisis that threatened to paralyse Poland's parliament.
Meanwhile, Guy Verhofstadt, a top liberal EU lawmaker known for his criticism of Poland’s ruling conservatives, said at a news conference in the European Parliament on Tuesday that the fine against a “private and independent” television station was "unacceptable," according to a report by Poland's PAP news agency.
Verhofstadt, a former prime minister of Belgium, also referred to contested judicial changes approved by Poland’s lawmakers on Friday and argued that the situation in Poland in terms of the rule of law has deteriorated, according to PAP. He urged MEPs to speed up work on triggering Article 7 of the EU Treaty against Poland, a "nuclear option" that could potentially result in sanctions.
But penalties on Warsaw would have to be backed unanimously by EU member states, while Hungary has said it would not support sanctions.
Source: PAP, wpolityce.pl