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12 Aug, 2021 13:30

Poland criticized by EU for ‘sending negative signal’ with media bill restricting foreign ownership

Poland criticized by EU for ‘sending negative signal’ with media bill restricting foreign ownership

The European Commission has condemned the passing of a media bill in Poland’s lower parliament that restricts foreign ownership of the country’s media outlets, stating that the move “sends a negative signal” for democracy.

Vera Jourova, the vice president of the European Union’s (EU) executive in charge of overseeing media freedom across the bloc, took to Twitter to launch criticism at Poland for its bill on Thursday. 

“Media pluralism and diversity of opinions are what strong democracies welcome, not fight against,” she said, remarking that “The draft Polish broadcasting law sends a negative signal.”

Jourova also took the opportunity to call for a “media freedom act” across the EU bloc. 

Brussels’ condemnation comes after lawmakers passed a bill on Wednesday in Poland’s lower parliament in a bid to curb countries outside of the European Economic Area from owning Polish media outlets.

The move has sparked an outcry from Poles and politicians in opposition to the government, with some claiming that it is a bid to curb the anti-government sentiment spouted by the largest private television network, TVN24. The outlet is owned by US media company Discovery Inc., which is registered in the Netherlands. 

Poland’s prime minister clapped back at allegations that the bill was aimed at TVN explicitly, telling a news conference on Thursday: “We do not have any intentions regarding a specific TV channel. It is just about tightening the regulations so that there is no situation in which companies from outside the European Union would buy media in Poland.” 

Alongside disapproval from Brussels, the United Nations’ European human rights branch also expressed “concern” for media freedom on Twitter. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington, one of Warsaw’s main allies, was “troubled” by the legislation, reminding the central European country that “our shared values are our mutual security.” 

Poland has recently come under fire from the EU for failing to abide by the bloc’s values in its hostile treatment of its LGBTQ+ citizens. Brussels announced in mid-July that it was launching legal action against Poland, which could result in it having to go to the European Union’s Court of Justice for self-declaring LGBTQ-free zones in over 100 towns across the nation. 

Also on rt.com EU launches legal action against Hungary and Poland for violating rights of LGBTQ+ citizens

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