European Union Commissioner for the Digital Economy, Guenther Oettinger, has warned of the possibility of legal action against Poland’s government over a controversial new media law.
The new conservative government has taken steps to control state media after MPs passed a law last week giving the government the power to appoint the heads of public broadcasters. Critics of the law argue that it threatens free speech.
“There are solid grounds for us to activate the rule of law mechanism and put Warsaw under monitoring,” Mr Oettinger said in a statement to the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, referring to a mechanism that allows the European Commission to put pressure on an EU member state to amend any measure seen to be a “systemic threat” to EU values. Possible sanctions include the withdrawal of voting rights for the member state in question.
Under the new law, Polish public service television (TVP) and Polish Radio will be overseen by a new national media council close to the ruling conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS), while there will also be an overhaul of media regulators and the heads of public broadcasters will be accountable to the treasury minister.
The directors of four TVP channels resigned in protest of the law this weekend.
It is anticipated that Polish President Andrzej Duda, formerly a member of PiS and still close to the party, will approve the law this week.