Poland’s lower house passed a controversial bill that could force Discovery to sell its controlling stake in TVN.
The new law, if it reaches the statute book, could prevent companies from outside the European Economic Area from owning a majority in Polish media companies. The move, instigated by the nationalist Law and Justice Party, is seen as an attack on TVN, which has been critical of the government.
Discovery condemned the bill’s passage as “an attack on core democratic principles of freedom of speech, the independence of the media” and said it was “directly discriminatory against TVN and Discovery”. It appealed to Poland’s upper house [Senate] and president, who must also approve the bill, to block it. “Poland’s future as a democratic country in the international arena and its credibility in the eyes of investors depend on this,” Discovery said.
Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, said the US was “deeply troubled” by the draft legislation.
MPs from PiS claimed the changes to the media law were necessary to prevent companies from undemocratic states from taking control of Polish media groups. The bill is opposed by most opposition groups and by the Agreement party, which for the past six years had been one of PiS’s two junior coalition partners. This week the party pulled out of the coalition after Mateusz Morawiecki, prime minister, sacked its leader, Jaroslaw Gowin.
Agreement’s departure deprived PiS of its formal parliamentary majority, but in the end the bill passed narrowly after a second vote instigated by the Speaker, a Law & Justice MP.