The Polish government has announced plans to discontinue compulsory television and radio licence fees. The ruling centre-right Civic Platform party had said it favoured the move last autumn when it took power, and a formal announcement of the decision followed on March 6.
Party deputy Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska said legislation would be introduced in the next two to three months, Polish Radio reported. The license fee would be abolished entirely by Jan. 1, 2009, to be replaced by a so-called "Public Mission Fund" financed directly out of the state budget for the state's public broadcasters.
Civic Platform authorities say that currently only 40% of TV and radio users actually pay the annual fee of 186 zloties (€53), and that public television gains most of its revenues from advertising.
Public television's advertising revenue reached more than 1.5 billion zloties (€435 million) in 2007. However, public radio is 73% funded by subscription fees which bring in about 200 million zloties annually.
If that funding disappears, says Polish Radio chief Krsysztof Czybański, public radio cannot survive. He has promised to fight the change.
Polish public television includes seven national stations and 16 regional broadcasters. Polish Radio has six national stations and 17 regional stations.