Multichannel programmer Discovery has formally notified the Polish government that it will take legal action under the bilateral investment treaty between the United States of America and the Republic of Poland.
The notification follows what the broadcaster describes as Poland’s discriminatory campaign against Discovery’s TVN, including its refusal to renew TVN24’s broadcasting licence, and culminated in the vote in the lower house of the Polish Parliament to pass legislation that would ban upstream foreign media ownership in the country. Discovery says the legislation is the latest assault on independent media and freedom of the press, and takes direct aim at Discovery’s TVN, the country’s leading independent broadcasting group and news provider, as well as one of the largest US investments in Poland.
According to Discovery, over a number of years, the current Polish government has targeted TVN in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner as part of a broader crackdown on independent media and in direct violation of legal protections around freedom of expression.
The Notice of Dispute was sent to President Andrzej Duda on August 12th. Discovery continues to strive for a positive resolution to this situation, but should this fail, Discovery intends to commence arbitration proceedings in accordance with Article IX(3) of the Treaty and seek full compensation for Poland’s breaches.
“Discovery has successfully operated and invested in Poland for nearly 25 years, making us now one of the biggest international investors and employers in this incredible country,” stated JB Perrette, President and CEO of Discovery International. “The current Polish government’s damaging and discriminatory actions, however, leave us no choice but to bring charges under the US-Poland bilateral investment treaty. We are deeply committed to safeguarding our investment in Poland and its people, defending the public’s interest in independent media and the rights of freedom of expression. Discovery, as a protected investor in Poland, is afforded important rights and freedoms under the US-Polish Treaty. We do believe this legislation will have a chilling effect on US and European investment into the Polish economy, and we will aggressively defend our rights,” he asserted.
Discover contends that Poland’s conduct violates several obligations under the Treaty signed between the US and the Republic of Poland on March 21st 1990. The obligations include fair and equitable treatment, non-impairment by arbitrary and discriminatory measures, non-discrimination in granting licences, and the prohibition on expropriation without compensation.