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The battle for the Media Bill in Poland continues

Katarzyna Grynienko 2008-05-04

The Polish Parliament amended the Media Bill, shifting power away from politicians, after Senate discussion and corrections last week.

The bill is awaiting the signature of the President, who has been hostile to the plan and has stalled his decision for another week.

The amendment restricts the powers of the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT), which has had total control over public media and was staffed with political appointees. The Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza reports that under the amendment, KRRiT would share responsibilities with a new body, the Office of Electronic Communication, shifting power to media experts and away from politicians.

Expecting a presidential veto, the government outlined a security plan. On the 29th of April the Government had announced that the two existing public television channels (TVP1 and TVP2) would be divided, so that one is purely "missionary" and presents educational and cultural programs and the other, a commercial one, has the right to sell broadcast advertising time. The advertising money would supply the Public Mission Fund and stay out of reach of KRRiT. In effect, this plan would bypass a veto and lack of enough Parliamentary support to override.

There is still an ongoing battle over a second so-called "large amendment," which would completely overhaul the funding of public media by canceling traditional license fees and replacing them with government funding.

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