Public broadcaster accused of favoring the ruling party

His boss, Wojciech Straszynski, says the decision had no political motives, while the journalist himself is sure that was exactly the case.Glowacki’s transfer followed a report about Krzysztof Putra, a prominent Senate member from the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), who allegedly did not hand over a laptop and camera belonging to a municipal company after he finished his work there.

Straszynski decided not to air this material. He argued that the information was not reliable. But Glowacki said he is sure that the director of TVP in Bialystok was following the wishes of PiS on the eve of the parliamentary election, which is scheduled for October 21. Glowacki’s colleagues support him. The journalists sent a protest letter to their company’s chairman, Andrzej Urbanski, as well as to the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiTV), the institution which ensures compliance with the law by public broadcasters, and which indirectly controls state media.In recent months TVP has been frequently accused of not being impartial and of serving the political interests of the ruling party. Civic Platform (PO), the largest opposition party, has recently described TVP’s work as “spreading political propaganda of PiS.”

In response, TVP said it would sue PO. Last week TVP interrupted a second-division football match and aired an election campaign rally of PiS instead. The television management said it is obligated by law to show important events and that the rally was visited by the prime minister.After Law and Justice won elections in the autumn of 2005, it soon took control of the National Broadcasting Council by nominating new people and changing a bill which regulates its functions.

In May 2006, conservative journalist Bronislaw Wildstein, who earlier had shown his sympathy for the PiS, became TVP chairman. In March of this year, Wildstein was replaced by Urbanski, long-term collaborator of President Lech Kaczynski and his twin brother, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

During the Wildstein and Urbanski era, many notable journalists have left TVP and have stated that political pressure made it impossible to stick to objectivism. The people who replaced them are described by the opposition as pro-PiS. TVP remains the most influential Polish broadcaster, with a 39 percent market share. Political influence on the company is a long tradition in Poland. Since 1989 every new government has tried to take over TVP in order to improve the government’s public image.

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