Poland protests media tax bill after protest – 17/02/2021 – Worldwide

After protests from newspapers, radio and television stations, websites and movie distributors, the Polish government announced that it would amend the plan which imposed a tax on media advertising revenue.

Last week, the media carried out a “news blackout” and published a manifesto against a black background accusing the right-wing conservative government of Law and Justice (PiS) of trying to strangle the independent media.

Next to Hungary, Poland is one of the countries with the most reservations about press freedom and media control. The two countries face a European Union investigation for rule of law violations.

The government intended to charge tariffs between 2% and 15%, depending on the size and type of the business and the volume of advertising revenue, on the grounds that it needed additional sources to finance the system. health.

This measure, however, was criticized even by members of the ruling coalition which, just a few months ago, had already suffered a shock in Poland. The centrist Accord party, which is part of the coalition, said last Friday (12) that the project was “unacceptable in its current form”.

Critics say the tax bill introduced by Law and Justice is another step in his strategy to increase control over the media, adopted since he came to power in 2015.

In December of the same year, he passed an amendment to the law that gave him control over public media and significantly reduced advertisements for state-owned companies in vehicles such as the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, the largest independent vehicle in Poland, and Polityka and Newsweek Polska magazines.

One of its platforms has been the attack on foreign media ownership and the campaign for a “repolonization” of vehicles. In December, PiS took another step forward by announcing that the state-controlled oil refinery PKN Orlen was buying Polska Press, which publishes several newspapers and magazines and until then was owned by German company Verlagsgruppe Passau.

Although it has announced that it will make changes to the tax bill to reflect changes to the text, the government must maintain its intention to increase the pressure on foreign companies.

Responding to the risk of making independent media impractical, PiS said the tax would be progressive, “so as not to affect local media in any way, only international giants.”

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