Warsaw faces off against far-right in Polish media conflict

Image: Czarek Sokolowski/dpa/picture alliance

Newly elected Prime Minister Donald Tusk has relaunched Poland’s public broadcaster, wresting control from the previous far-right government. But reforms remain uncertain.

Three weeks after the change of power in Poland, the public media remains the most prominent political dispute between the center-left government of Donald Tusk and Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s outgoing national conservative Law and Justice party (PiS).

President Andrzej Duda, an independent close to the PiS, placed this topic at the center of his New Year’s address. “For the first time in free Poland since 1989, there was an attempt to take over the public media by force. The broadcasting signal of some TV channels was turned off and informational programs were no longer broadcast,” Duda said.

“I will never accept the violation of the constitution. Unfortunately, we are currently dealing with such a situation,” he added, saying that the government can reform the media, but it must do so in accordance with the law.

Dual power in the media

The president’s words, which most commentators interpreted as confrontational, came in reaction to the latest development in a media dispute that led to a kind of dual power between Christmas and the New Year.

New appointments to the supervisory and management boards of the three state-run media outlets by Culture Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz on December 19 had launched a wave of protests by the PiS. The populist, national-conservative opposition party said the personnel changes were unlawful and refused to recognize them.

Courtesy of DW