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Broadcasting council chief answered questions regarding TVN24 licence extension in the Senate

TVN24 | TVN24 News in English

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gf
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TVN24 News in English, TVN24, Reuters
Poland's broadcasting council chief spoke about TVN24 licence renewal in the SenateTVN24
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TVN24Poland's broadcasting council chief spoke about TVN24 licence renewal in the Senate

Still not prolonged broadcasting licence for TVN24 was among the issues about which Polish senators asked the chief of the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) Witold Kołodziejski. He admitted that the process has been dragging its feet causing a "big problem". According to Kołodziejski, TVN's ownership situation, as well a merger between Warner Media and Discovery, are the main reasons behind the delay.

TVN24 channel still waits for its broadcasting licence to be renewed by the National Broadcasting Council. The current licence expires on September 26, whereas the request for extension was filed in February of 2020.

The station is in the process of renewing its licence, but the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party is planning changes to the law that could force Discovery to sell a majority stake.

The National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) on Thursday voted on the TVN24 licence, which expires on September 26, but the results were inconclusive.

The KRRiT claims the problem lies in the "ownership situation" of the TVN Group. The TVN Group said in a statement that in 2015 the council had approved entry of American capital into TVN.

Since 2016 - under the same ownership situation - the KRRiT has already granted licence for TVN24 BiS, TTV and TVN International West channels.

TVN and Discovery HQ in WarsawBartosz Krupa/East News

KRRiT chief explains main reason for TVN24 licence extension delay

The Chairman of the National Broadcasting Council Witold Kołodziejski spoke in the Senate on Friday, presenting a report on the KRRiT activity in 2020. Later on, he answered questions asked by the senators. One of the questions pertained to the still not renewed broadcasting licence of TVN24 news channel and the so-called anti-TVN bill.

He admitted that the TVN24 licence procedure has been dragging its feet. "It's a big problem for all of us. However, this procedure is not delayed for no reason," he said.

"Why now, and not earlier? The KRRiT does not require any special documents attached to renewal extension requests. We didn't require such documents, nor did we analyse them. But now, to be honest, the upcoming merger on the American market, that is the fusion of Warner Media and Discovery, has forced us to think and examine this transaction," Kołodziejski said.

KRRiT chief Witold KołodziejskiTVN24

Kołodziejski about Broadcasting Council's concerns

Witold Kołodziejski stressed that this transaction "has not been finalised yet". "It's being examined by American organisations and institutions. As it turns out, Polish offices - the KRRiT and the antitrust office - won't be taking part in this process. It's concerning to us. The National Council and the antitrust office should have influence and possibility to review such transactions, as they make huge impact on the Polish media market," the KRRiT chief said.

"We've noticed this problem and we're looking into it. This is the main reason for all delays and difference in approach towards this process, to this procedure. To be honest, the fact that it's about licence of a news channel is a very big obstacle in cold approach and reviewing of this process," he added.

Poland's National Broadcasting CouncilShutterstock

KRRiT chief on main reason for TVN licence extension delay

The KRRiT chief informed that "the first session during which licence extension for TVN was discussed took place in October 2020". "At the time, we asked for documents regarding TVN's ownership situation, and while we were examining those documents, new information regarding the merger came in. This had impact on the analyses of the factual and legal status," he said.

Kołodziejski stressed that "the delay is not (directly) connected with the fusion on the American market, but with inconsistency between the broadcaster's ownership structure and the legal requirements". "The actual owner and beneficiary of the TVN station is a 100-percent American company. This is the main reason for the delay and other problems," he explained.

The Broadcasting Council head reminded that a procedure regarding terrestrial licence for TVN7 station was also ongoing. "Next year proceedings will be launched regarding licence for the main TVN channel," he added. "If not solved, the problem will remain the same," he said.

TVN and Discovery HQ in WarsawTVN

U.S. State Department Counselor: very significant investment in Poland

Future American investments in Poland could be jeopardised if the country does not renew the licence of 24-hour news channel TVN24, U.S. State Department Counselor Derek Chollet said on Thursday, referring to potential new Polish laws against its ownership by American media company Discovery Inc.

The station is in the process of renewing its licence, but the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party is planning changes to the law that could force Discovery to sell a majority stake.

The National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) on Thursday voted on the TVN24 licence, which expires on September 26, but the results were inconclusive.

"This is a very significant American investment here in Poland. And there will be knock-on effects perhaps, if the license is not renewed, to future U.S. investments...," Chollet told TVN24 in an interview.

He added he had raised the issue during meetings with Polish officials.

Derek CholletTVN24

Chollet: media freedom is crucial

TVN, estimated to be worth over $1 billion, is the biggest American investment in Poland.

In July, PiS lawmakers submitted to parliament amendments to the Broadcasting Act that would restrict companies from outside the European Economic Area from controlling Polish radio and television stations.

The proposed changes have fuelled tension between Poland and the United States and prompted fresh criticism from Polish opposition groups that PiS is seeking to curb media freedom.

PiS argues that foreign companies have too much influence in the media sector, distorting public debate.

"Media freedom is absolutely critical," Chollet said.

Autor:gf

Źródło: TVN24 News in English, TVN24, Reuters

Źródło zdjęcia głównego: TVN24