Polish parliament to appeal for public media and court reforms

WARSAW (Reuters) -Poland’s new parliament will debate on Tuesday two resolutions calling for the restoration of public media impartiality and credibility and for changes in the National Council of the Judiciary (NCJ), its speaker said.

Critics say both institutions have been politicised during the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party’s eight years in office, with 24-hour news channel TVP Info becoming an outlet for government propaganda.

The new pro-European Union government has vowed to create stations that would take a more balanced approach to public service broadcasting. Supporters of TVP Info say shutting it down would damage pluralism by removing a conservative voice.

“The Sejm (lower house of Parliament) … calls on all state authorities to immediately take action aimed at restoring constitutional order in terms of citizens’ access to reliable information and the functioning of public media,” the draft resolution said.

Last week, a group of PiS lawmakers applied to the Constitutional Tribunal, which critics also say became politicised under the previous government, to rule on whether the government may take action aimed at liquidating public radio and television companies.

In a sign of the tensions between TVP Info and the new government the station was refused entry to a press conference with Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Tuesday.

Tusk has been subject to intense attacks from TVP Info, which has sought to portray him as dishonest, indifferent to the well-being of ordinary Poles and under the sway of Germany and Russia.

During the beginning of Tuesday’s press conference the channel featured a black screen with the words ‘Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s press conference was supposed to be here’. Its broadcasts now also feature the words ‘You have the right to choose’ in the corner of the screen.


The parliament also said several resolutions regarding the NCJ by the previous lower house were unconstitutional and appealed to what it described as its illegally-appointed members to resign.

It also called on the President “to immediately take action aimed at restoring the political position and functions of the NCJ specified in the Constitution of the Republic of Poland and appropriate for a democratic state of law”.

President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, has repeatedly expressed his support for PiS’ court reforms which critics and European institutions say violate the rule of law, which means that the new government may face obstacles when trying to undo them.

Poland needs to row back on some of those reforms, especially ones regarding a disciplinary system for judges, to obtain billions of euros in EU funds.

(Reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, additional reporting by Alan Charlish;Editing by Ed Osmond and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)