Tuesday, January 12, 2016

This Poland-Germany Meeting

There's been some brewing trouble in Poland over the past couple of weeks, since the election about three months ago, and a law passed which changes the dynamics of the 'boss' over state-run television there.

Because of German state-run televsision commentary....the Polish leadership decided to request the German ambassador in Warsaw (Rolf Nikel) needed to come by the Foreign Ministry and have a chat (it's not a formal discussion)....yesterday.  Most accounts say it was a friendly visit and that Poland just wanted to clear the air.

What this center around?

Poland passed a law which says that state-run TV in Poland works for the Treasury Department.....not an independent commission.

I had to go back and examine the TV council in Poland to understand the issue.  Around ten years ago, there was modification to the TV council (made up of five members.....unlike the German deal 77 members).

The five members serve a six-year period.

Election to the independent Polish TV council?  This gets to being interesting.

The President of Poland will appoint two members himself.  The House of Legislature will appoint two members.  And the Senate will appoint one member.  The current leadership based on the election.....probably could ensure the President's appointees, and perhaps one of the House appointees.  The Senate?  It's balanced out 50-percent to 50-percent (two opposition parties make up the 50-percent counter-balance).

What the President intends....at least the way I examine it.....is to have the hiring and firing authority close at hand, and be able to bring the public TV news bosses to a quick grasp of who the boss is.  If you ran complaints by the council.....you might have two or even three people on the council who refuse to listen.

No one really cares much about the entertainment side of state-run TV in Europe.  It doesn't matter which country we are talking about.....the public will say that entertainment is marginally OK or better.

But when you come to state-run news.....where a dozen reports over a ten-day period could really slam one political party or another.....people get peeved.  If they were anti-leftist comments....one group would get upset.  If they were anti-rightist comments.....another group would get upset.

If you were the President of some country and felt some frustrations.....with the TV council in control....what do you do?  Ask the five members to come and visit you.....and have to convince a majority of them to act upon your request?   And if three don't agree?  Fire them and get public attention via the state-run news media?

In the case of Germany....with 77 members on the TV council....it's virtually impossible for the state to effect enough of these people and thus trigger some massive change that the public or the sitting authority in Berlin might desire.  In some ways.....the TV council protects state-run TV by taking little to no action.....365 days out of the year.

Poland in this case.....said enough.  Rather than leave it to a council which may not have any real effect....it's in the hands of the Treasury Department....one single guy.  If he's not happy....he can fire who he desires.

If the TV tax wasn't part of the gimmick, there might be an argument to this discussion.  But the tax goes into a pot and represents payment by regular citizens who have no real influence over the state-run TV empire.

No comments: