• The Polish dilemma

    Minister of culture Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz announcing changes to state media TVP at a conference in Warsaw, February 2024. Photo: Adam Stepien/Agencja Wyborcza.

    “I had a choice: to stay on a legislative path that would last months or even years and allow hatred to spill further, or put an end to it.”

    Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz, Polish minister of culture.

    This is how Sienkiewicz justified his decision to liquidate Polish public television. According to many experts, including those at Freedom House, Polish public television (TVP) had become a propaganda tool under the previous Law and Justice party-led government.

    The incoming minister’s move to dismiss the current TVP management was against the law, as the members’ terms of office were due to last for several more years.

    This is a risky path, as not all courts want to agree to register the new TVP company’s authorities. In 2015, when PiS came to power, it also replaced the entire TVP management, which was in defiance of the law. The PiS then established a new institution that ensured the party’s control over TVP for years to come.

    The new government faces a dilemma: restoring the rule of law and the independence of the media in Poland may be necessary, but might not be entirely legal.

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