Poles protest across the country to defend media freedom

By AP News

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poles marched in cities across the country Sunday to defend a U.S.-owned television network that is being targeted by the country's right-wing government and to protect media freedoms in a European Union nation where democratic norms are eroding.

FILE - Warsaw headquarters of Poland's TVN broadcaster that is owned by the U.S. company Discovery Inc., in Warsaw, Poland, July 8, 2021. Poland’s president will have the final decision on a controversial media bill seen as targeting a U.S.-owned TV network that’s often critical of the Polish government, after lawmakers overturned a Senate veto on the proposed legislation. It would prevent any non-European entity from owning more than a 49% stake in Polish broadcasters, the practical effect would be to force Discovery Inc., the U.S. owner of Poland’s largest private television network, TVN, to sell its Polish holdings. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, file)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poles marched in cities across the country Sunday to defend a U.S.-owned television network that is being targeted by the country's right-wing government and to protect media freedoms in a European Union nation where democratic norms are eroding.

Many of the protesters were older Poles who decades ago resisted the country's communist regime. They fear that the democracy that they helped usher in is now being lost to them. They believe Poland's populist right-wing government is turning the country away from the West and adopting an authoritarian model closer to that of Turkey or Russia with attempts to exert political control over the courts and silence critical media.

The protests, led by opposition groups, were called after the parliament on Friday unexpectedly passed a bill that would force Discovery Inc. to sell its controlling share of TVN, Poland’s largest television network.

TVN operates an all-news channel TVN24 and its main channel, TVN, has a nightly evening news program viewed by millions that offers critical reporting of the government.

The fate of the bill now lies with President Andrzej Duda. The main protest on Sunday was taking place in front of the presidential palace in Warsaw.

Government leaders have defended the legislation by arguing that it is important for national security to ensure that no company outside of Europe can control companies that help form public opinion.

The United States is a close ally of Warsaw and has urged the government not to pass the law, viewing it as a hostile act towards a U.S. company.

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Author: AP News

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