Over the past month, there's been a couple of occasions that German journalists did commentary over Poland and used the wording of 'extremist government'. There's been a recent election in Poland, with a fair number of votes (37.5 percent) going to a right-leaning political party (PiS). Poles....at least if you read between the lines (going beyond German reporting).....wanted a fair amount of change and yes....immigration problems were probably helpful in getting a seven-percent swing up and hurting the PO Party (they lost fifteen-percent of their position in the election).
So, as the new government emerged in October.....there's been some awkward first steps. One of these steps is a reform effort taking place over state-run television/radio.
There's a perception by some Poles that the state-run news media was out-of-focus and behaving more like cheerleaders than reporters.
If you wanted to fix something like this.....you are limited to two devices....either you control or eliminate funding......or you force leadership changes within the television networks themselves. Either way, you freak out the media people.
This new Polish Parliament pushed through some rather quick changes....without a lot of debate (months of talk would usually be the standard in Germany). The measure passed with 232 votes for and 152 votes against (34 abstained). So, this new law has a direct impact on Polish national TV. If you are a senior leader in public radio or TV.....you will be appointed or fired by the treasury minister. The previous method was via the National Broadcast Council (KRRiT).
I sat and did some research over KRRiT. After Poland emerged from the Communist period....they realized a device was needed to control state-run TV...in particular....the news media. So KRRiT would be a device used by the Parliament. It'd be a board of directors....for all practical purposes. The Parliament would push through people for the board (agency) for a six-year membership. If the board appeared to be overly balanced toward the left.....it's mostly because of the fragmented nature of Polish politics, the past elections where left-leaning parties pushed their people into the leadership roles of KRRiT, and the public was left out of the management of national TV (state-run TV).
Could the current new government have simply waited out patiently as each KRRiT member reached the end of their six-year period, and replaced them with their own choice? Yes.
The general issue would be that you'd have to patiently wait, and if the news media was more of an adversary during this waiting period....reacting to the job as cheerleader rather than a news reporter....then you'd have competition for control of public opinion. The new Parliament decided that this wasn't going to be an option.....so the new law was crafted for the State Treasury to 'own' state-run TV/Radio completely.
I should note here....the KRRiT members presently....aren't happy about this episode because it's more or less put them out of controlling the state-run TV and radio empire.
Naturally, all of this fuss has reached the stage that reporters in other nations (state-run of course) are upset and complaining via their mouthpiece to their 'people'. The EU is said to be concerned and surveying the situation....but it would typically take a year for them to create some law to counter-balance the situation. Getting full support within the EU might be another question.
The comical side of this? The criticism of the new law has led to people to suggest that it'll create a turbulent management where editorial bias "might occur" (as if such bias wasn't already working in some way).
Pressure upon the new leadership of Poland? I sat and read through a couple of articles. There's slanted opinions no matter where you look over the discussion and you can't find much that really comes out of the mouth of a regular Polish guy on the street. What you end up with is more news media talk or political figure talk.
Oddly, there is another discussion going on about changing the functions of the state-run TV and radio empire, and reshaping the budgetary vehicle that pays for it. The current Polish TV tax is set at roughly forty-eight Euro per year, per residence (fourteen Euro if you just have a radio alone). This might suggest raising the tax, and giving some pay-raise to the employees to give them some positive feeling out of all the negativity created.
The general problem? It doesn't matter if we are talking Poland, the UK, Austria, or Germany.....there's this perception within the general public of bias going on with state-run news. Even the German state-run news people were a bit shocked in 2015 to realize that roughly half (some poll done in mid-summer) were not that favorable over their tactics or honest reporting. The term 'lying press' is actively used by some Germans.
Where all this leads onto? There's some reshaping of state-run TV coming to Poland and it'll take at least three years to see what really emerges out of this. The more you try to fix things.....the more you rely upon breaking things a bit more....to master the fixing talent.
So, when you hear some German journalist all hyped up and stomping his foot over the Polish changes to state-run news....it's mostly that he wants to ensure you don't get any stupid ideas about modifying German state-run news or TV. Don't mess with a perfectly designed system (sarcastically spoken of course).