Poland is undermining media: OSCE

Poland is undermining media: OSCEThe Polish government's tightened hold on public media, its conflict with the highest court and recent anti-terrorism legislation have jeopardized free expression in the country, according to Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), European main rights and democracy watchdog.

Since taking power last year, the conservative nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party has given the government the right to appoint state broadcaster chiefs, given security forces more surveillance powers and tried to curb the Constitutional Court.

"What we are facing at the moment is a very complex situation that is definitely undermining the independence of public service broadcasting in Poland," said Dunja Mijatovic, the representative for media freedoms for the 57-nation OSCE.

"The problems in Poland ... are very much related to the constitutional changes that are affecting among other things also free expression," she told Reuters in an interview.

Mijatovic said that more than 120 broadcast journalists had been sacked. Polish media said they were fired because they were insufficiently supportive of the PiS.

"What has happened is definitely a reason for concern - the appointment procedures of board members, political control over those boards, and appointments to public media," she added.

The PiS has also signaled that foreign ownership of private news outlets should be reduced, although senior party officials concede this would be difficult to bring about.

Germany's Bauer Media owns the most popular Polish radio station, RMF, while Swiss-German Ringier Axel Springer owns Poland's bestselling tabloid Fakt.
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