Poland’s parliament passed a controversial law on Wednesday that experts say could shut down a US-owned broadcaster critical of the government, according to media reports.
The recently passed legislation, that would still require a final stamp of approval from the country’s President, is likely to strain the relationship shared by Poland and western powers like the United States and western European countries. According to reports from Reuters, rights of the LGBT community and judicial independence are already points of conflict between Poland and the European Union.
If signed by the president, the new media law will
restrict non-European individuals from owning a stake in Polish media companies.
The legislation would force Discovery Inc, the US broadcaster that is the owner of Poland’s largest private television network, TVN, to sell its Polish holdings, according to reports from the Associated Press.
The legislation, when in its pipeline, was labelled as an effort to limit the freedom of media by TVN, according to reports from news agency Reuters.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who is also one of the core leaders of the Law and Justice (PiS) party says that countries like China and Russia were taking control of their media.
“Would we like Polish media … to be acquired without any regulations by anyone from around the world without any obstacles”, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki asked reporters, according to reports from Reuters.
The new legislation, days before it was scheduled to be presented in the Polish parliament for a vote, attracted a huge pushback from the people of the country. Thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the bill.
TVN’s all-news station TVN24 is a key source of news for many Poles but it is also a thorn in the government’s side. It is often critical and exposes wrongdoing by officials. The government’s supporters consider it biased and unfairly critical, news agency Associated Press reported.