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Foreign influence in Polish media: German media report

German daily Deutsche Welle (DW) warned against a politically motivated purchase of Gremi Media, publisher of Rzeczpospolita, one of the largest Polish newspapers, by Pluralis. According to DW, the main goal of buying Gremi Media is to gain political power, not economic motives.

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In January forty percent of Gremi’s shares ended up in the hands of a Dutch fund, financed by the German bank GLS. Pluralis’ senior advisor Max von Abendroth admits that Poland is the “focal point of current operations” for the company.

German interests

Recently, Germany was shaken by a scandal involving the news of Axel Springer’s head Mathias Döpfner instructing the then-editor-in-chief of Bild to write more about the FDP party before the elections to influence the election campaign.

However, this did not stop our Western neighbors from going further and thinking about taking control of media in Central and Eastern Europe, including Poland.

German bank GLS in late March issued bonds, worth a total of EUR 100 million, with which it intends to finance media in central and eastern Europe, through a Dutch media association called Pluralis.

Pluralis’ (whose members include the Belgian King Baudouin Foundation, the Dutch company Mediahaus and the Oak Foundation) official goal, according to its representatives, is to provide finance to “independent media” in Central and Eastern Europe.

The profits

In short, the investment is aimed at building pluralism in the Polish media market before the elections. In other words, gathering political power to later profit from it.

Deutsche Welle’s text makes it clear that the GLS bonds are aimed not so much at economic profit, but at political profit – which can only become economic profit as a result of the Polish election result obtained through the investment.

“For Pluralis, Poland is a country in urgent need of foreign investors who consider the social benefits of free media and media diversity as the main investment criterion,” says Max von Abendroth. Deutsche Welle writes bluntly, referring to financial issues that “the investment risk may pay off.”

German influence already present

The company boasts that it has already made its first purchases: in Slovakia by investing in media house Petit Press, and in Poland by investing in Gremi Media, publisher of Rzeczpospolita. However, Von Abendroth assures that this is not the end and “especially in Poland they [Pluralis] will be even more active.”

Furthermore, this is not the first political interference in Polish media. In 2016, Polish weekly “Do Rzeczy” revealed that there was a high-profile push to fire the editor-in-chief of the Polish tabloid “Fakt” for being unsympathetic to the government of former Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

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