Battle over financing Polish public media


    A battle is brewing in Poland over the best way to finance public broadcasting. A parliamentary commission has been looking into the matter after the new government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced it intends to abolish the radio and TV license fee.

    Only about 40% of the public currently pays the fee, which the Tusk administration has given as grounds for dropping it. It says the public media should be funded either directly from the state budget or by advertising.

    Polish Radio President Krzysztof Czabańksi testified during a session of the parliamentary commission for culture and media on Dec. 6 that dropping the license fee could be a death sentence for the public media and on a wider scale for national culture.

    Public television's advertising revenue reached 1.1 billion zloties (€305 million) last year, and advertising sales have grown about 40% this year.

    However, public radio is 73% funded by subscription fees. If that disappears, Czybański says, public radio will not survive.

    Polish public television includes seven national stations and 16 regional broadcasters. Polish Radio has six national stations and 17 regional stations.