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PiS blockade and a new broadcast

On Wednesday, Poland’s new government replaced the leadership of the public media. The voted out PiS protested – and blocked the new head of the PAP news agency from access to his office.

In Poland, the conflict between the political camps over public media continues. About a dozen MPs from the voted-out national conservative ruling party PiS spent the night from Thursday to Friday in the building of the PAP news agency, as the private television station TVN24 reported. Accordingly, the new manager Marek Blonski was prevented from entering his office.

The new head of the PAP, Marek Blonski (right), in the news agency building.

New newscast broadcast for the first time

The new pro-European government of Donald Tusk took the first steps on Wednesday to end the PiS’s control over the public media. Culture Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz fired the entire leadership of the public broadcaster in one fell swoop. This affected the CEOs and supervisory boards of the TVP television station, Polish radio and the PAP news agency.

On Thursday, the first main news program was broadcast after the sacking of the management of the TVP1 channel. At the beginning, experts and station representatives explained why the programs under the national conservative government violated the principles of objectivity and fairness and why the government replaced the station’s leadership so quickly. Even the name of the show was changed, from “News” to “7.30pm”.

The Tusk government accuses the media of spreading party propaganda over the past eight years under the PiS government. International organizations had also criticized the one-sided reporting by the public media in Poland.

Human rights activists see legal doubts

“The current working methods of Polish television, Polish radio and the PAP press agency blatantly contradict what public media should be in a democratic constitutional state,” said a statement from the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights that has now been published. The public broadcasters became propaganda organs under the PiS and took part in homophobic hate campaigns.

However, there are constitutional doubts as to whether a member of the government should be allowed to make the decision about the staffing of the administrative bodies of the public media, according to the human rights activists. In the election on October 15, a three-party alliance of the former opposition led by Tusk won the government majority. The PiS, which had been in power since 2015, lost power.

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