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HFHR asks about draft amendment to Broadcasting Act

At the beginning of 2016 the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage informed that it started working on the second amendment to the Broadcasting Act.

On Monday 18 April, Deputy Minister Krzysztof Czabański said the amendment’s draft was “practically done” and expected to be sent to the Sejm soon. Since the draft was not presented for public consultations, on 19 April the HFHR filed a public information request for the disclosure of the proposed amendment’s content. The HFHR request may be read here.

During a number of meetings and debates the HFHR and other non-governmental organisations asked the Ministry of Culture to submit the draft to public consultations. However, on Thursday 21 April the draft was tabled with the Sejm as a deputy-sponsored bill, which enables the proponents to avoid public consultations at the preparatory stage. The proposed legislative package, known as the “Big Media Act”, comprises the National Media Act, the Audio-Visual Contribution Act and introductory provisions.

The bills introduce a number of measures, among them a universal radio and television licence fee, named “audio-visual contribution”, which is to be collected together with electricity bills. They also terminate managerial contracts of executive staff working in reorganised public media outlets.

The purpose of the initiative is to transform TVP (public television), Polskie Radio (public radio) and PAP (Polish Press Agency) from commercial companies to national media institutions. The transformation is expected to be completed by 1 July as the so-called “Small Media Act” ceases to be effective on 30 June. Under the new laws, the management of the public media is to be elected by a six-member National Media Council, composed of candidates appointed by the Sejm, Senate and the President (each body is to appoint two Council members). Under the new laws, one of the Sejm appointees will be a representative of the largest opposition parliamentary grouping.

The Helsinki Foundation will present a legal opinion on the bills during legislative works in Parliament.

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