A few weeks ago Brussels chastised Warsaw’s judiciary, media, and sexual issues as incompatible with EU law. The saga continues as Poland has passed a new law to regulate its media market with particular attention to foreign influences, including America’s Discovery Channel.
First, in an ongoing dispute over sovereignty, the EU’s top courts ruled that Poland’s Disciplinary Chamber, a judicial watchdog to counter corruption and maleficence in the courts, is incompatible with EU legislation because it is allegedly not independent.
Not so, says Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal. First, the verdict contradicts the Polish Constitution which is the supreme law of the land; second, the judicial watchdog is independent.
It has displayed independence in a number of its rulings vis-à-vis the ruling Law and Justice party. And it certainly is independent in comparison to Poland’s former rigged post-Communist judicial system which never attracted the ire of the EU.
In other words, Brussels, go fly a kite. The government of Poland was democratically elected. The courts are democratic and so is the Constitution. Its letter is binding for the nation.
More than a few hysterical voices presaged that Warsaw’s stance could be the end of the EU: “If the E.U. doesn’t wake up to what’s happening with Poland, it may sleepwalk into self-destruction,” thundered The Washington Post (July 15), for example.
The EU has encountered an obstacle to its imperial overreach. What’s it going to do? Invade? Sanction? It will probably continue to wait in hopes of seeing its leftist allies prevail in Poland’s 2023 parliamentary elections. They will gladly kowtow to EU compatibility.
Meanwhile, the Polish are in a defiant mood. Their parliament (Sejm) has passed another round of legislation to reconcile its sovereignty and the media market.
Hitherto, it remained largely unregulated and based on periodic broadcasting concessions. Anyone, say, the Chinese or the Russians, could launch a TV channel pumping their fake news unimpeded.
The Sejm has decided that was enough of that. It introduced a new law regulating media. Now each broadcasting company will have to have at least 20% native Polish ownership – private or public. It is congruent with the Law and Justice’s campaign to “Polonize” big corporations, including the press and TV.
However, the 20% threshold is silly, for it does not guarantee control. It seems more of an incremental move on the part of the governing coalition. Thus, one should expect more adjustments to the law in the future.
Moreover, as the critics correctly charge, the media law further solidifies the grip of the ruling party on public TV and radio (TVP).
Media outlets in government hands are little more than PiS propaganda loudspeakers. In fact, they are nauseating in their hosannas to the nation’s president, prime minister, and their teams.
The shrill primitiveness and partisanship of their public media message repulses even some of stalwart conservatives and nationalists. But as Barrack Obama put it, “elections have consequences.” Win one, and appoint your own people where you want. Just ask Joe Biden.
To be sure, Poland’s public media were equally repulsive when they were run by former liberal and leftist Civic Platform (PO) coalition. Just like with the post-Communist Polish judges, it bothered Brussels none.
Only now, when the populist-nationalist-conservative coalition cabinet led by PiS runs public media is the EU bothered, along with The New York Times, and others like them.
What does it have to do with America? Well, the media law has been dubbed “Lex TVN.” And TVN is a branch of the Discovery Channel. It is alleged to have been originally set up by Soviet intelligence services. Later it was sold to a U.S. company.
Currently, its liberal message is hardly distinguishable from the American leftist narrative. In the Polish context it is particularly repellent and loathsome because it is perceived as a foreign media entity attacking Poland’s Christianity, patriotism, and tradition.
To add insult to injury it is done in Polish by woke hirelings. And they are much more sophisticated, better funded, and more internationally connected than the Polish public TV apparatchiks.
Poland’s leftist opposition, the EU, and the Discovery Channel have already made it about freedom of the press. Ultimately, however, it is about sovereignty.
Discovery should drop its woke programming and switch to Christian and patriotic offerings. It would corner the market in Poland in no time and defeat in ratings the nation’s public TV. But that would not be congruent with EU legislation, would it?
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is Professor of History at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school of statecraft in Washington D.C.; expert on East-Central Europe's Three Seas region; author, among others, of "Intermarium: The Land Between The Baltic and Black Seas." Read Marek Jan Chodakiewicz's Reports — More Here.
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