Polish public media is being destroyed ‘like a police baton hitting a crystal vase’, says former head of the National Broadcasting Council

Polish courts have ruled that the culture minister’s decision to liquidate public media was invalid, but he refuses to accept that verdict, meaning he is breaking the law, argues senior lawyer and former head of the National Media Council Marek Markiewicz

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: wpolityce.pl
PiS supporters arrive at the headquarters of Poland's state-owned TVP broadcaster to protest against the takeover of TVP by the Tusk government. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Polish Culture Minister Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz has for the second time been found in breach of the law. Two weeks ago, his move to appoint new management of public media with the use of the commercial code was found to be invalid, and these boards were not registered by the courts.

On Monday, the courts ruled that he had no right to appoint liquidators for Polish Television TVP and Polish Radio and the courts have refused to register the liquidators too, with these courts referring to a ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal made days earlier. 

The former head of the National Broadcasting Council, Marek Markiewicz, said he believes the present government is destroying the reputation of public media and leading it towards financial ruin. He acknowledges that when the Polish public media system was being worked out in the 1990s, no one ever envisaged that a government would act against the law and the public interest in such a way. 

The senior lawyer, who was the first head of the National Broadcasting Council after its creation, said he is astonished that public prosecutors and judges who took action to defend the “rule of law” are today silent on the illegal activities of the government.

“As far as rule of law is concerned, the situation is clear. The minister is breaking the law,” Markiewicz told the Polish outlet wPolityce.pl.

Markiewicz accuses the government of destroying the public media in Poland, which is “like a police baton hitting a crystal vase.”

He pointed the finger at the government, which he says is acting in favor of commercial competitors who stand to benefit from the decline of public media. 

The former head of the National Media Council urged the boards of the public media who had been illegally dismissed to begin to act to repair the situation. They should not back down and accept the illegal actions of the government. He said he continued to hope those in power would see reason and begin dialogue to repair the damage that has been done. 

Markiewicz concluded that the Culture Minister Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz cannot decide which court rulings he accepts and also criticized the Justice Minister Adam Bodnar for ignoring the president’s will to pardon two Law and Justice (PiS) politicians, which has led to division and social unrest. 

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