| 5 March 2024, Tuesday |

Polish president denounces Tusk’s state media overhaul as ‘anarchy’

The Polish president on Thursday denounced state media reforms announced by Prime Minister Donald Tusk as “anarchy”, as tensions mounted between the head of state and Tusk’s new pro-European Union administration.

The swearing-in this month of a government led by Tusk, a former president of the European Council, marked the beginning of a period of cohabitation with President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the previous nationalist administration. It has seen a turbulent first few days.

On Wednesday, Tusk’s government took a public news channel off the air and dismissed executives from state media, saying the move was designed to restore impartiality.

State media, and in particular news channel TVP Info, were accused of having become outlets for propaganda under the rule of the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Some PiS officials had gathered at public TV headquarters in protest earlier in the week, and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) “denounced the intrusion”.

“The public media belong neither to PiS, nor to any other party,” said Pavol Szalai. “We call on the government of Donald Tusk to seize the historic opportunity and to adopt a comprehensive bill on the independence of the public media and on decreasing political influence in their oversight, funding and leadership appointment.”

Duda told private broadcaster Radio Zet that the government’s steps, which skipped appropriate parliamentary procedures went against the constitution. “These are completely illegal actions,” he said. “This is anarchy.”

The National Broadcasting Council said in a statement it informed the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA) of “a material breach of media law”.

“…political objectives cannot constitute an excuse for violating or circumventing constitutional and statutory provisions,” its head – PiS-backed Maciej Swirski – said in a statement.

The head of the prime minister’s office Jan Grabiec told a press conference later on Thursday that work on new media order have begun and the prime minister had already started talks with the president on the matter.

  • Reuters