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English Section

US senators warn Poland over media bill

05.08.2021 06:30
A group of prominent US senators have warned the Polish government against pursuing legislation that they say would infringe on a free, independent media and jeopardize US media investment in Poland.
US Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
US Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen.Photo: EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

The bipartisan group of senators, led by Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, head of the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, said a proposal under consideration in the Polish parliament, if passed and signed into law, “would discriminate against non-EU companies and likely force out of Poland a major U.S. investor employing several thousand people.”

The senators warned that “any decision to implement” the proposal “could have negative implications for defense, business and trade relations” between Poland and the United States.

'We are watching these events carefully'

“The Polish government’s continued democratic backsliding, most recently through efforts designed to undermine independent media and one of the largest U.S. investments in the country, is deeply concerning,” the senators said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

They added: “As a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators, we want to make clear to the Polish government that we are watching these events carefully.

“We are monitoring legislation under consideration in the Polish parliament that, if passed and signed into law, would discriminate against non-EU companies and likely force out of Poland a major U.S. investor employing several thousand people.

“This legislation, coupled with Poland’s refusal to renew the license for the firm TVN, continues a troubling trajectory for Poland’s democracy. This is not the way to attract foreign investments and would further undermine media freedoms for which Poles have long fought.”

The statement continued: “These and other steps, which Poland — a NATO ally and close friend and partner of the United States — has recently taken, do not reflect the shared values that underpin our bilateral relationship.

“Any decision to implement these laws could have negative implications for defense, business and trade relations. We urge the Polish government to pause before acting on any measure that would impact our longstanding relationship.”

The joint statement, initiated by Senator Shaheen, was also signed by Democrats Dick Durbin, Chris Murphy, Chris Coons and Ben Cardin, as well as Senator Jim Risch, the lead Republican on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Poland's PAP news agency reported.

US Republican Senator Jim Risch. US Republican Senator Jim Risch. Photo: EPA/Greg Nash

Polish bid to tighten media ownership rules ‘perfectly normal’: PM

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last month that a new Polish bill aiming to tighten foreign ownership rules for media firms is a “perfectly normal” legislative move.

He made the comment after a group of lawmakers with the country’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party submitted a bill saying that television and radio license holders cannot be directly or indirectly controlled by owners based outside the European Economic Area.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

Poland’s governing Law and Justice party has long claimed that foreign entities own too much of the country’s mass media and distort the public debate. But critics say those in power are seeking to gain control over the country’s biggest private broadcaster TVN, a US-owned news outlet known for being critical of the government.

The disputed proposal is expected to be voted in Poland's parliament later this month.

(gs)

Source: PAPshaheen.senate.gov