Media have total freedom, says deputy PM

At the moment, media in Poland have total freedom, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Culture and National Heritage Piotr Gliński said on Monday.

Gliński was inaugurating an international conference entitled ‘Media as a Public Service’ in Warsaw.

In the deputy PM’s view, Polish media are similar to media in the west when it comes to all the “bad things” related to globalisation: tabloidisation, fake news, involvement of the media in propaganda, combining information and entertainment (so-called infotainment, or soft news), and sensationalism. “It’s a threat that we have to tackle everywhere in the world,” he observed. “However, Polish media also have their characteristic traits and specifics.”

He noted that Polish media “continue to derive from the communist times” and there are “many big media institutions” which were established “directly by people coming from the communist system, through the use of their money and connections.” “Many of those who collaborated with the security services were involved in the creation of media in Poland after 1989, and they continue to have an influence on the current situation,” the culture minister declared. “Maybe not the same as at the beginning of the changes, but we continue to feel it.”

Among the problems of Polish media, the deputy PM named the significant proportion of foreign capital in the market. “For instance, in the regional press, 90 percent of papers belong to owners representing foreign capital,” he pointed out. “Of course, foreign capital is good for democracy, but on condition that there is balance; there exist tools that allow certain things to be balanced. In Poland there are no such tools. (…) It is very difficult for my government to introduce new solutions, when it comes to legislation, to put the media market in order. In my opinion, the situation is to some extent, in a certain sense, undemocratic.”

In the culture minister’s view, the media in Poland are deeply engaged in politics, as well as with the interests of certain businesses. “At the moment we have a situation whereby over 80 percent of media are focused on a battle with our democracy, with our government,” Gliński continued. As an example, he gave local media which, he said, are also controlled by local governments. “Our government strives to support independent media and civil media thanks to a special, central fund. When the government creates such a fund to support something, it is often immediately accused of being undemocratic. However, in this case it seems to me that we’re supporting democracy by supporting local media,” he asserted.

The ‘Media as a Public Service’ conference started on Monday at the ‘Dom Dziennikarza’ press centre in Warsaw. The event is organised by the Foundation for Journalistic Solidarity, the International Communications Forum, the Association of Polish Journalists and the Polish National Foundation. It ends on Tuesday.

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