Poland ties all-time low ranking in Press Freedom Index

The 2018 World Press Freedom Index map released by Reporters Without Borders (click for interactive version)
The 2018 World Press Freedom Index map released by Reporters Without Borders (click for interactive version)

Poland continues its decline in the World Press Freedom Index, coming in at #58 out of 180 countries in the new 2018 listing by Reporters Without Borders. This sandwiches it between Fiji and the Dominican Republic, and ties Poland with its record low rank of 2006.

In a scathing justification of Poland’s position titled “Blinded by Ideology,” Reporters Without Borders cited the tightening of control by the ruling right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party over public media, which it says has been “transformed into government propaganda mouthpieces.”

The report also criticizes the government’s charges last year against journalist Tomasz Piątek for alleging that (now former) Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz has ties to the Russian government and organized crime, as well as a record fine of nearly 1.5 million PLN by regulators against broadcaster TVN24 for showing footage of demonstrations against media restrictions. (Both actions were later reversed under intense domestic and international pressure.)

The right-leaning Polish Journalists Association (SDP) has accused Reporters Without Borders in the past of being less harsh on PiS’ rival Platforma (PO) party when it made shakeups to state media during its time in power. It was then, in early 2015, that Poland achieved its record high Index rank of #18.

Since then the country has fallen to #47 in 2016, #54 last year, and now #58. Its current numerical score – 26.59 – is an all time high (indicating less press freedom). In comparison, the number one country (Norway) scored 7.63, and North Korea came in last at 88.7.

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières), founded in 1985, is a Paris-based non-governmental organization which aims to promote freedom of information and the press worldwide. Their Press Freedom Index has been released annually since 2002.

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19 thoughts on “Poland ties all-time low ranking in Press Freedom Index

  • April 25, 2018 at 8:38 pm
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    Yeah, right, and report was made by whom and where is any proof? So what about freedom of media in UK, Germany and USA? Give me a break.

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    • April 27, 2018 at 1:09 am
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      Jaro, zajmij się lepiej swoim kotem zamiast udawać “sprawiedliwego”

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  • April 25, 2018 at 9:50 pm
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    1. The report was made by whom? It tells you in the article. 2. Where’s the proof? It is in the report, which you haven’t read and so are in no position to question. 3. What about UK, Germany and USA? Also in the report that you haven’t read. Just trying help.

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  • April 26, 2018 at 5:20 am
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    Sweden and Germany have good press scores? LOL!!!

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  • April 26, 2018 at 7:51 am
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    Another non sense index which was created and manipulated by God knows who and why!

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    • April 26, 2018 at 11:48 am
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      @ Breno – The messenger you are shooting.

      @Jaro and Dan K – The predictable strategy of deflection using you are. Called “Whataboutism” it is.

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  • April 26, 2018 at 8:31 am
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    It’s sad that many Poles will now blindly attack the report, instead of reading it carefully to understand which actions of the ruling party caused the decline and think what could be done to improve the situation.

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    • April 27, 2018 at 9:31 am
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      I’ve read it carefully. I understand why Freedom of Press (all capitals) could be considered endangered. However, I do not understand how it’s possible that they thought FoP was higher in 2015, when it’s obvious to anyone with half of brain that it wasn’t. It destroys the credibility of this report.

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  • April 26, 2018 at 11:05 am
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    all these indexes are quite stupid… 75% of polish media is German owned so is this index reflective of the German media or the 25% left polish media? besides which country in the world would allow such concentration of media by a single foreign country?

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  • April 26, 2018 at 12:32 pm
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    I wonder why my previous comment was deleted? just pointing to the fact that 75% of media in Poland are German owned so is this freedom index commenting on German or Polish media i wonder? should they not be concerned that such large % of media is owned by single foreign country?

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    • April 26, 2018 at 3:25 pm
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      I imagine the Reporters Without Borders critique is aimed primarily at public TV, but the point about ownership is an interesting one. Here is an extract from a Freedom House article which discusses the question:

      The ownership structure of Polish media

      Foreign owners hold a dominant position in the Polish media market, and this fact has acquired a new political significance since the PiS government took office. Kaczyński has responded to critical coverage of PiS’s actions with the claim that “most of our media are in German hands.”20 In May 2016, he said that a situation in which “foreign capital takes advantage of the current situation for political actions is unacceptable.”21

      To counter this perceived problem, Kaczyński has called for the media to be “repolonized” (see box). It is unclear how the government might go about such a task. For now, it has been mulling new antimonopoly regulations. In late 2016, Deputy Culture Minister Jarosław Sellin said that his ministry, along with the KRRiT and Poland’s competition watchdog, would prepare draft laws “ensuring greater pluralism of ownership” in the media. Sellin added that “capital has a nationality, especially in this remarkably politically sensitive sector, the sector of the media.”22 The regulations could have implications for Polish companies that own media outlets across a variety of platforms, like Agora SA.

      Although Polish print media and radio outlets are predominantly private and diversified in terms of ownership,23 foreign owners, predominantly German, control around three-quarters of the Polish media market. These include Bauer Media Group, Verlagsgruppe Passau (operating in Poland as Polska Press), and Ringier Axel Springer. The only major domestic competitor is Agora, which owns the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, along with a number of magazines, radio stations, internet platforms, and a publishing house.24 The company has been listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange since 1999.

      Among the largest dailies, Fakt is owned by Ringier Axel Springer Polska and Puls Biznesu by Swedish-owned Bonnier Business Polska. Newsweek Polska is also owned by Ringier Axel Springer Polska. Bauer owns RMF FM, the most popular radio station. Rzeczpospolita was partly owned by foreign companies in the 1990s and 2000s, including Norway’s Orkla Group and Britain’s Mecom Group, before being bought in 2011 by the Polish company Gremi Media, which now holds a 100 percent stake. In the television market, TVN was bought by U.S.-based Scripps Networks Interactive in 2015.

      Foreign ownership is most pronounced in the regional media. One of the largest owners is Polska Press, which now publishes 20 regional dailies across 15 of Poland’s 16 regions, as well as over 150 local dailies. According to its website, the company reaches 6.3 million readers in Poland on a daily basis.25 In 2013 it bought Media Regionalne, the second-largest player on Poland’s regional media market, from Mecom Group. The transaction was ultimately approved by Poland’s competition watchdog. However, Polska Press had to sell one of the regional dailies it was acquiring to avoid harming competition in the eastern Lublin region, where it already owned the other main regional paper.26

      ‘Repolonization’
      Apart from the media, the PiS government has applied this term to banks, referring to efforts to increase domestic ownership in Poland’s financial sector. In the media context, “repolonization” carries clear political connotations, as some PiS politicians argue that foreign-owned media outlets carry deliberately unfavorable coverage of the current government in an effort to undermine it.

      The entire article can be found here:

      https://freedomhouse.org/report/special-reports/assault-press-freedom-poland

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  • April 26, 2018 at 3:45 pm
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    so all in all – Germany – no 15 on the index, Poland 58 so after adjustment for ownership the index of ‘polish’ media should be as follows:

    25% at 58 and 75% at 15 will give a score of approx.26 am i correct? a result well ahead of spain and france!!!

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  • April 27, 2018 at 5:23 pm
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    This is Cuckold Index my friend.

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    • April 27, 2018 at 9:23 pm
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      A cogently argued and interesting read, but a bit of a digression from the actual subject under discussion, i.e. press freedom – (although one of the below-the-line commentators is less than complimentary about PiS and the “propaganda machine” as he/she calls it, of Polish public television).

      Good to know, as I read elsewhere, that Burke himself condemned the partitions of Poland.

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      • April 27, 2018 at 10:58 pm
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        If the Krakow Post would indulge me with one final comment, I ought to stress that, although I may appreciate the cogency of an argument, it does not follow that I agree with the argument itself. I do not, for example, see the EU as some kind of oppressive, supra-national behemoth intent on stripping sovereign states of their rights, but, rather, a club whose members signed up to a certain set of democratic values.

        And speaking of the press, apparently the term “Fourth Estate” was coined by none other than Edmund Burke.

        I doff my three-cornered hat and say farewell.

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  • May 24, 2018 at 9:40 pm
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    “reporters without borders” that should explain everything. Whatever these brain dead people can say what ever they want, because at the end of the day when you go to Poland, you know you are going to a safe, nice, clean place the Poles call home. Poland is at the top of safest places in the world, and #1 in Europe for women. Say what you want, we don’t care. We will never open our borders to the completely opposite cultures that create conflict. Its our house, our rules, our culture. If you want to live here you adopt to our rules, not the other way around. Call us what you want, and you open borders to your house, we will leave ours to us. Poland is for Poles, and ones who respect.

    Reply

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