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Regulator responds to HFHR’s complaint about TV evening news programme

In the opinion of the National Broadcasting Council, the public TV’s evening news report on non-governmental organisations “lacked information about the actual work of such organisations and their social role and also costs of their operations connected with the exercise of their statutory duties and involvement of NGO activists”. According to the national regulator of the media market, the reports in question failed to emphasise “the social purpose served by NGOs and objectives they need to achieve”.

The letter from the National Broadcasting Council is the response to the official complaint of the HFHR submitted in November in connection with a series of news reports broadcast by TVP’s Wiadomości, the public television’s key evening news programme. The complaint alleged that the reports were purposively designed to discredit non-governmental organisations in the eyes of the public.

NBC’s sends statement to public TV chief

The National Broadcasting Council has sent a statement to the President of the Polish Public Television Corporation (TVP) in which the regulator emphasised the rules applicable to the public broadcaster under the Broadcasting Act, and in particular the obligations of impartiality, integrity, pluralism, objectivity, balancing and unbiased development of public awareness.

The NBC also urged the public TV chief to “introduce applicable procedures that would enable the Public Television Corporation to attain its objectives” including those relating to “the accurate reporting of matters significant for the nation”.

HFHR complains to NBC

In November 2016, the Helsinki Foundation requested that National Broadcasting Council review whether the evening news reports on NGOs complied with requirements set by the Broadcasting Act. The Act obliges public television outlets to produce news in line with the principles of impartiality, balance and independence. Regrettably, the reports broadcast by “Wiadomości” violated these principles.

“The reports have been designed to smear social activists in an attempt to discredit the activities of leading Polish non-governmental organisations”, the complaint reads.

Many other non-governmental organisations have voiced their opinions on the matter, publishing a joint letter of protest. The letter reads that “the insinuations presented in the public media and copied by news services, according to which some organisations received and spent money in a dishonest manner, taking advantage of a network of family and social connections, are detrimental not only to the reputation and public image of the attacked NGOs but also to the entire movement of active citizens who involve themselves in activities for the common good, working professionally or voluntary in non-governmental organisations.” The letter of protest was signed by 135 members of different non-governmental organisations, including the HFHR.

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