Police officers walk in front of the TVP building on Woronicza Street in Warsaw, Poland, 20 December 2023. The presence of protesters and Law and Justice (PiS) politicians at the TVP headquarters is related to the decision by the head of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage to dismiss boards of Polish Television, Polish Radio and the Polish Press Agencys. EPA-EFE/Kalbar POLAND OUT


Tusk-supporting MPs ‘recruiting for Polish State media’


Polish news portal Onet.pl says MPs from Donald Tusk’s ruling coalition have been offering journalists jobs and “huge pay rates” to work for TVP, the country’s biggest public service broadcaster.

Bartosz Węglarczyk, the chief editor of Onet, a portal generally supportive of the new Tusk-led Government, said on December 22 that “the new TVP has been attempting to take journalists from many other media outlets offering huge pay rates which are way above markets rates”.

He added the new Government had concluded that TVP is a “propaganda tool that works” for it.

Magdalena Rigamonti, also from Onet, claimed the offers were coming from parliamentarians with the ruling coalition: “When a politician phones a journalist tempting him/her with offers of work a big red light should be flashing as it shows they do not want a free media but government media working for particular political parties.”

On December 20 the new culture minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz dismissed the boards of public television, radio and the Polish Press Agency (PAP) arguing he wanted to make those media organisations “go back to providing balanced coverage”.

On the same day TVP’s news channels TVP Info and TVP World, along with regional TVP channels, were taken off-air. Many journalists employed there have been laid off.

In addition, the news portal wPolityce.pl has reported that all archived TVP Info material has been destroyed on the orders of the new management.

The news and current affairs output of TVP had in the past eight years been criticised for bias towards the then-ruling PiS government. The minimal news service now operating at TVP is being equally taken to task for being overly supportive of the Tusk Government and the parties that back it.

The takeover of public media has led to a storm of protest from the main opposition Conservative PiS.

Its MPs have been occupying TVP and PAP buildings, challenging the Government’s action. Polish President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, has described the ruling coalition’s moves as “illegal and unconstitutional”. Apparently in retaliation, he then vetoed a government bill relating to the 2024 budget.

“I have decided to veto the budget-related act, which includes 3 billion PLN [€690 million] for public media,” he said.

“There can be no consent for this as a result of the flagrant violation of the Constitution and the principles of a democracy and the rule of law. Public media must first be repaired honestly and legally.”

The Government has accused Duda of blocking badly needed pay rises in the public sector.

The President has said he will submit his own budget-related bill which would retain other spending included in the Government’s version, such as pay raises for teachers.