Idea to get rid of TVP info channel absurd, unfounded: Press Freedom authority

“Absurd and absolutely unfounded,” is how the head of the Centre for the Monitoring of the Freedom of Press and deputy head of the Association of Polish Journalists (SDP) Jolanta Hajdasz described the idea to dismantle Polish public broadcaster TVP’s info channel TVP Info.

“The idea to dismantle TVP Info is, in my opinion, absurd and absolutely unfounded in the light of the rules on which the Polish press system is built, in the light of the rules of the freedom of speech and in the light of what politicians should be addressing and what is outside their competences,” Ms Hajdasz told the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

The idea was brought to life by the opposition Civic Platform (PO) party who, in February, began to collect voices of support for a draft law that would see the dismantling of TVP Info and the abolishment of the TV subscription fee. The law requires that a committee for such a legal initiative be established with at least 1,000 signatures.

PO’s head Borys Budka said on Tuesday that as many as 7,000 signatures have been collected. The politician alleged that the TVP Info channel was a factory of hate and a partisan bulletin, not a provider of credible information. Meanwhile, Mr Budka’s fellow partisan Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski said that the party has begun to collect 100,000 signatures necessary for the submission of a citizen draft law that would see the abolition of the TVP Info channel.

The head of the Centre for the Monitoring of the Freedom of Press expressed her opinion that “it is inappropriate that politicians were preoccupied with the question of which channels the public broadcaster would operate and with regulating these kinds of matters via legislative action.” She went on to say that “the collection of signatures under the draft law seems to me to be a move of a strictly political nature, it is directed at stirring a rumpus, a political conflict while thoroughly disregarding the rules that all media, not just public media, should follow today.”

According to Ms Hajdasz, the move “is designed so as to get rid of media that are inconvenient for the opposition politicians. Regardless of the assessment of the quality of the TVP’s channels, one thing is certain — the public broadcaster has been bringing back a plurality to the public space in Poland for a couple of years. The people who were excluded from the public debate, the topics that became taboos and were overlooked by the mainstream media, have returned to the public space.”

Ms Hajdasz felt that “the PO demanded the dismantling of TVP Info because” the channel was tackling “uncomfortable topics.”