Poland: new government fires state media leaders

The Polish Ministry of Culture announced on Wednesday December 20 that it had fired the management team of state media, widely considered a relay of the former populist government

Poland: new government fires state media leaders

The Polish Ministry of Culture announced on Wednesday December 20 that it had fired the management team of state media, widely considered a relay of the former populist government. The president and members of the board of directors of the state television, radio and news agency “have been dismissed,” the ministry announced in a statement.

State media, controlled by the populist nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, have been regularly accused of presenting biased information, transmitting government propaganda and launching verbal attacks against the opposition.

On Tuesday, the new ruling coalition had Parliament adopt a resolution calling for the “restoration of legal order, impartiality and credibility of public media”, cited in the ministerial press release.

Former culture minister Piotr Glinski considered these steps “illegal”. “This is obviously an attack on free media, it’s a violation of the law,” he said.

State television premises occupied

Polish nationalist populists occupied public television premises overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday to defend “media pluralism”. “There is no democracy without media pluralism or strong anti-government media, and in Poland it is the public media,” PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said overnight. “We want to make sure that there is a legal order in Poland and that the media remains free,” added MP Marek Suski (PiS) on Wednesday.

The PiS, in office for eight years, lost power after the legislative elections in October. The coalition led by pro-European Donald Tusk took the reins of the country and pledged to reform state television and radio.

The previous government was repeatedly accused by the pro-European opposition and non-governmental organizations of restricting media freedom while directing significant funding to state media. In its 2020 report, the organization Reporters Without Borders highlighted that “partisan speech and incitement to hatred [were] still the rule in the [Polish] public media, which were transformed into mouthpieces of the government propaganda.”