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POLAND: Potential Movement on Media Reform
In January, the ruling PiS party decided to suspend its efforts of introducing a bill preventing the concentration of capital in the media sector. This issue was brought to light in the early months of the PiS term after scuffles with outlets owned by the German Ringier Axel Springer (e.g. Fakt, Newsweek, Onet.pl) and the US Scripps Network (e.g. TVN24). Before the January government reshuffle, sources within PiS indicated that if the media bill does not pass in 2017 it will only come back after the next parliamentary election in 2019. According to sources of the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna daily, however, PiS party leader Jarosław Kaczyński was meant to make the initial decision that the issue will return in Autumn 2018.
The unconfirmed information suggests that the media bill is meant to be one of the key political topics ahead of the November local elections. Indeed, PiS politicians have often said that the biggest culprits, in terms of outlets, are local newspapers – the vast majority of which is owned by German publishers. Still, the important issue is the approach of Prime Minister Morawiecki if the debate was meant to come back. PM Morawiecki, who is by many considered a moderate within his party, has toned down the rhetoric against some media outlets. Witnessing a potential change on this front will be indicative of the relationship between Morawiecki and Kaczyński.