Polish media dispute deepens with dual appointments of TV boss

WARSAW (Reuters) – A dispute in Poland over control of public media deepened on Tuesday, as a body dominated by the former nationalist government designated a new television boss despite the current administration having appointed somebody else to the role.

A pro-E.U. coalition government headed by Donald Tusk took power in Poland this month and has started an overhaul of state media institutions which critics say had become propaganda outlets during the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party’s eight years in power.

The changes have met with strong opposition from PiS, which says the new government has circumvented normal parliamentary procedure in implementing them.

Its lawmakers have staged protests and sit-ins at state media headquarters and President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, has denounced the reforms as “anarchy”.

On Tuesday, PiS lawmaker Joanna Lichocka said that Poland’s National Media Council (RMN) had appointed Michal Adamczyk as chief executive of state broadcaster TVP. The RMN was formed in 2016 when PiS was in power and was given responsibility for appointing the leadership of public media.

Adamczyk was one of the most recognisable faces of TVP news output which PiS’s opponents said was propaganda.

“(Adamczyk’s) main task is to restore corporate governance and stop activities to the detriment of the company,” Lichocka wrote on social media platform X. “We hope that the culture minister will stop breaking the law.”

The culture ministry and the head of the prime minister’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.

Culture Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz had previously dismissed the supervisory boards of public TV and radio as well as state news agency PAP. New supervisory boards in turn appointed new management. In the case of TVP, journalist Tomasz Sygut got the role of chief executive.

Matters were complicated further by the fact that on Monday the previous supervisory board of TVP, which does not accept its dismissal, appointed former PiS lawmaker Maciej Lopinski as chief executive.

Sienkiewicz said in a statement on Monday that Lopinski’s appointment was “legally ineffective because it was adopted by a non-existent body”.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish; Editing by Nick Macfie)