POLAND

Country Summary


The November 1995 transfer of power from 15-year incumbent President Lech Walesa to ex-Communist Aleksandr Kwasniewski affected the local media mainly in the sphere of public broadcasting.

Poland’s public television station underwent many changes after the former director, identified with the station’s independent-minded programming, resigned and Ryszard Miazek, a member of the ruling Polish Peasant Party, took charge. During his first month on the job, Miazek was quoted in a local newspaper as saying, “Society is the state and its democratic structures, and television should offer its services to them. It should not aspire to expressing independent opinions because such opinions are formulated by parliament and other representatives of the state.” Miazek eliminated independent political programs from public programming and appointed new program directors closer to the views of the ruling party. Viewer ratings plummeted.

Meanwhile, private newspapers, journals, and television and radio stations remained largely independent, strengthened by Poland’s growing market economy. But the independent media were subject to harassment by libel laws. Local and international media strongly criticized the guilty verdict in the only documented Polish government-sponsored civil suit against a journalist, which the court eventually annulled.

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