According to IRNA from the Associated Press; Polish President Andriy Duda on Monday announced his opposition to a bill restricting foreign ownership of his country’s media companies, which would initially force an American company to divest its majority stake in the popular TV channel TVN.
The bill, recently passed in the Polish parliament, bans the ownership of any non-European entity over more than 49% of the shares of Polish radio and television companies, and its practical effect extends to only the American company Discovery, which forces it to sell more or even all of its shares. TVN will be the largest private television network in Poland.
Doda, who has been under pressure from the US government to reject the bill, said it was damaging to his country’s reputation as a place of trade and business, citing the opposition of many Polish citizens to the bill, adding that being seen by Poland As a respected partner for its allies, it is important.
Polish government leaders have backed the bill, arguing that ensuring that no non-European companies dominate the institutions that shape public opinion is important for national security and sovereignty.
But many Poles see the bill, backed by the Duda’s Law and Justice Party, as an attempt to silence a media company with an all-news network and an evening news program aired on its main channel. It has millions of viewers, and recently there have been widespread nationwide demonstrations in support of the network and greater freedom of expression.
Discovery has also threatened to sue Poland in an international arbitration tribunal to protect its investment. TVN, first bought by another US company for $ 2 billion and then sold to Discovery, with a current value of nearly $ 3 billion, is the largest US investment in Poland.
Doda said he agrees with the principle of restricting foreign ownership of media companies, and that many other democracies, such as the United States, France and Germany, enforce such laws, but that passing the bill would cost his country billions of dollars. Even with the acceptance of this problem, the approval and implementation of this bill in the current situation does not seem necessary.