Polish President vetoes media law criticized by US

The president of Poland vetoed a project of media law that, according to critics, intended to silence a news channel owned by Discovery who criticized the Government, alleging concern about the tension that the law would impose on relations with U.S.

The measure allows Poland, a member of the OTAN, avoid a potentially explosive dispute with Washington at a time of great tension in Eastern Europe, amid what some countries consider greater aggressiveness on the part of Russia.

However, the decision means that a bill voted in Parliament by the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) has been blocked by a president chosen as its ally.

President Andrzej Duda He said in a televised statement Monday that if the law went into effect it could violate a treaty signed with the United States on economic and trade relations.

The bill was due to be approved by parliament this month, and would have tightened the rules around foreign ownership of the media, specifically affecting the capacity of the news channel TVN24, owned by the media company. American Discovery Inc, to operate.

TVN24’s parent company, TVN, is owned by Discovery through a company registered in the United States. Netherlands to circumvent the ban on non-European companies owning more than 49% of the Polish media. The bill, which sparked protests across the country, would have prevented this move.

PiS has long argued that foreign media groups have too much power in Poland, and that they distort the public debate.

However, critics say the measures against them seek to limit media freedom and are part of an increasingly authoritarian agenda that has put Warsaw at odds with the European Union.

Duda said he was generally in favor of limiting foreign ownership of the media, but that any regulation should refer to future investments in the sector, not current owners.

“There is also the question of pluralism in the media, freedom of expression (…) I took this element into account,” he said.

The United States Charge d’Affaires in Warsaw, Bix Aliu, thanked Duda on Twitter “… for his leadership and commitment to common democratic values ​​and for protecting the investment climate in Poland.”


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