Polish public media chiefs dismissed, news channel stops broadcasting

WARSAW (Reuters) – The management of Polish public television, radio and news agency PAP have been dismissed, the culture ministry said on Wednesday, as one public news channel that critics said had become politicised under the previous government went off air.

Critics say that state-run media, in particular 24-hour news channel TVP Info, became an outlet for propaganda during Law and Justice’s (PiS) eight years in office. Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s coalition has vowed to create new stations that take a more balanced approach.

On Wednesday the signal of TVP Info disappeared and was replaced by that of the first channel of public television. The same happened to its website.

“The end of TVPiS. TVP Info was turned off,” Civic Platform – the biggest party in the new government – said on social media platform X.

On Tuesday Poland’s new parliament adopted a resolution calling 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 head of the National Broadcasting Council said the dismissal of public media authorities broke the law.

“Disabling the television signal and the TVP Info websites is an act of lawlessness and recalls the worst times of martial law,” Maciej Swirski added referring to events during the communist era in Poland.

Swirski was appointed to the broadcasting council by the last parliament, after he was recommended by PiS.

PiS lawmaker and former deputy justice minister Marcin Romanowski said he had submitted a report to the prosecutor’s office on suspicion that the culture minister and his associates had committed a crime.

Media showed footage of PiS politicians appearing in the evening at the headquarters of public television to “defend democracy”, as their leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski told reporters outside.

“The illegal actions of the Minister of Culture in relation to TVP, Polish Radio and PAP show how the authorities that supposedly care about the rule of law violate it at every step” former PiS prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on X.

“We will not give up. We will not allow for a dictatorship to be built in Poland.”

(Reporting by Anna Koper, Pawel Florkiewicz and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Editing by Hugh Lawson)