1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
Press FreedomPoland

EU welcomes extension of license for Poland's TVN24

September 23, 2021

The US-owned network had fallen afoul of the ruling Law and Justice Party over its critical coverage. The row strained relations between Washington and Warsaw.

A full page news paper ad in support of press freedom in August shows the TVN logo with a two-fingered peace sign gesture forming the letter 'V'
A full page ad in support of the independent broadcaster TVN in the Polish daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza in AugustImage: Aleksander Kalka/ZUMA/picture alliance

The EU welcomed the extension of the broadcasting license for Polish TV station TVN24 Thursday.

Poland's National Broadcasting Council extended TVN's broadcasting license at the eleventh hour Wednesday after waiting almost two years to do so.

Brussels also warned that related discussions in the Polish parliament could still undercut press freedoms.

Why Poland waited so long to renew the TVN24 license

The network is owned by the US-owned Discovery networks and had fallen into a bit of political headwind in Poland in recent months because of its critical coverage of the government and the ruling Law and Justice Party.

Members of the party had singled out TVN24 for negative attacks.

In granting the extension, the Polish regulator also called on the parliament to bring more legal clarity as to whether TVN24 could continue operating.

Prior to extending the license, the broadcasting council unanimously adopted a resolution stating that owners from outside Europe cannot hold more than a 49% stake in radio or TV station in Poland.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of the ruling Law and Justice Party, has said repeatedly that he wants Polish media under the control of Polish owners.

A policeman steps on a banner with the logo of broadcaster TVN modified to resemble a well known symbol of the anti-communist movement in Warsaw in August
A policeman steps on a banner with the logo of broadcaster TVN modified to resemble a well known symbol of the anti-communist movement in Warsaw in AugustImage: STR/NurPhoto/imago images

The resolution lines up with a bill that has passed the lower house of the Polish parliament, the Sejm. However, it failed in the upper house, the Senate, and was sent back to the Sejm.

If the Sejm overrides the Senate, Discovery might yet be forced to sell more than half of TVN24, estimated to be worth more than $1 billion.

How Discovery reacted to the terms of its license

Discovery called the renewal of its broadcasting license "bittersweet."

In a statement, the media company said the resolution that the National Broadcasting Council passed unopposed before the license renewal "undermines the democratic legislative process itself."

"The rule of law, freedom of the press and stability for foreign investments are still very much at risk," it added.

The legislation and delays in issuing the broadcast license have strained ties with the United States, a key ally for Poland.

Lex TVN heralds loss of press freedom in Poland


ar/rt (AP, Reuters)