In regards to article added by Joe, be aware that this same process occurred when the current
opposition parties were in power, and the people forced to leave now benefited from the previous
forcing out of people who are now being re-instated.
At least in Polish public TV there is a going back and forth, from left to right, and right to left, while
in the US at NPR, and in Great Britain at the BBC, there is the same leftist regime that presides for
decades without a break.
Poland’s Conservative Government Puts Curbs on State TV News
By ALISON SMALE and JOANNA BERENDTJULY 3, 2016
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Piotr Maslak was a journalist at Poland’s state television and the first one to be fired under the new conservative government. CreditMaciek Nabrdalik for The New York Times.
WARSAW, Poland — The ax fell for Piotr Maslak just 12 days into the new year, when his new boss at Poland’s state television told him that there was no way to work together anymore, citing “different perspectives.” Mr. Maslak, 40, agreed, and now says he is “proud of being the first” to be sent packing under the conservative government that took power seven months ago.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the governing Law and Justice party, in June. Polish television networks have become an arena in recent battles between Polish authorities and European institutions.CreditKacper Pempel/Reuters
Since then, at least 163 other people, including the most prominent news anchors and reporters in Poland, have either been fired or quit state broadcasting, according to the Journalists’ Association, one of the two main organizations representing Polish journalists.
“They did not want to participate in political pacification of the media,” the group says on its website.
The departures are evidence of how swiftly and firmly the Law and Justice Party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the government’s de facto ruler, has moved to control state broadcasters and offer up what critics call a conservative, nationalist message to match the worldview of Mr. Kaczynski, 67, and his allies.
And they have intensified concerns among journalists and proponents of civil liberties about the effects of the authoritarian drift of governments in Poland and other Eastern and Central European countries, with potential risks to freedom of expression and dissent.
Names of journalists who have been fired or have quit Polish national TV and radio stations since the last parliamentary elections, displayed on the sidewalk in front of the prime minister’s office.CreditMaciek Nabrdalik for The New York Times
“They took off the gloves and don’t even attempt to hide anything,” said Mr. Maslak, who worked for the state broadcaster for eight years. The message, he said, is: “That’s the way we see national media. It must be representative of the government. If you don’t agree, you don’t have to work here.”
Friends followed him out the door in March, for example, when they argued that the television news should broadcast video of a large antigovernment protest that day, but their bosses ordered them to show a news conference of Poland’s Roman Catholic episcopate instead.
“They were fired the next day,” said Mr. Maslak, who now works for a private radio station, TOK FM, where he hosts a breakfast talk show.
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Polish viewers are passing their own judgment — with the channel changer.
In April, for the first time ever, the state broadcaster TVP1 — for years the most popular channel — placed third, behind two commercial channels, Polsat and TVN. State-run TVP2 took fourth place, according to a survey by Nielsen for Telewizja Polska, the state broadcasting corporation.
All four channels have seen their audiences decline. In May 2015, their combined market share was 44.5 percent; this May, it was 41 percent. However, while Polsat and TVN lost 6.3 and 3.4 percentage points, respectively, TVP1 suffered an almost 20-point drop.
Its flagship news program, “Wiadomosci,” has lost 750,000 viewers and is now watched by fewer than three million people, a historic low.
Polish fans at the soccer match last month against archrival Germany in the European championship tournament. After a preview of the match on state-run television, the next-most important message was the deployment of new official anticorruption forces to every Polish province.CreditMaciek Nabrdalik for The New York Times
Jacek Kurski, the new director of Telewizja Polska, said the findings were not credible because the survey had been conducted by a “foreign company” that “manipulated the results.”
But while Polish viewers may be tuning out, many outside the country are paying ever more attention to what is happening to Poland’s news media.
The country’s television has become an arena in recent battles between the Polish authorities and European institutions, which see a quarter-century of democracy at stake in a country that in so many ways led the fight against Soviet-bloc Communism.
The 47-nation Council of Europe, the Continent’s leading human rights body, has demanded transparent procedures for selecting and appointing the new National Media Council. Members of the media council should be qualified, independent and reflect social diversity, the Council of Europe said, and content should also be impartial and diverse. A proposal for dismissal of middle management should be abandoned, it added.
The timing of that middle management purge seems already to have been pushed back to late September as Poland comes under the sway of two big events in the international spotlight: the NATO summit meeting in Warsaw on Friday and Saturday, and a visit by Pope Francis.
Poland wants both events to go off unsullied by criticism from European arbiters. The Europeans, in turn, insist that they are not, as the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Nils Muiznieks, put it, “picking on Poland.”
A demonstration in Warsaw in January protesting government efforts to control state broadcasters.CreditKacper Pempel/Reuters
Judging by recent editions of “Wiadomosci,” the evening news program on state-run television, state broadcasters are now expected to instill patriotism and love of order. On June 16, after a long preview of Poland’s soccer match against archrival Germany in the European championship tournament, the next-most important message was the deployment of official anticorruption forces to every Polish province.
The 25th anniversary of a Polish-German friendship treaty was presented as mostly positive, but clouded, as President Andrzej Duda noted, by unfortunate differences over history. The killing of Jo Cox, a young British politician who had backed European unity, was given scant heed.
This sort of presentation, said Jacek Wasilewski, a media analyst, reflects the governing party’s view of Poland as a nation that, while firmly of Europe, has its distinctive part to play. In this regard, he said, the news media “is a constructed world of bad and good, in which every role is attributed.”
While young people everywhere are now tuning out conventional TV in favor of social media and virtual reality, Mr. Kaczynski’s party is focused on television for a reason, Mr. Wasilewski said.
“Older people are used to the TV set, and that’s why Law and Justice stresses the power of television,” he said.
Marek Magierowski, a spokesman for Poland’s president, said media control had long been a bone of contention. In 2011, he was fired as deputy editor of Rzeczpospolita, one of the two most influential newspapers, as it came under the control of an unknown investor who turned out to have close ties to the spokesman of the prime minister at the time, Donald Tusk.
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“I was a victim,” Mr. Magierowski said, “but there were no special sessions, no European Parliament, no words of caution” from Brussels.
Gazeta Wyborcza, the daily newspaper started by Adam Michnik as the mouthpiece of Poland’s Solidarity movement, is losing readership, like most newspapers, but is still influential, Polish analysts said.
But the conservatives in turn are building up clubs and other activities for listeners of the Catholic radio station Radio Maryja and readers of the weekly Gazeta Polska. The latter organizes readings of works the government likes and has increased its circulation into rare tens of thousands.
In early June, Mr. Kaczynski himself addressed a national gathering of hundreds of these clubs. “As it turns out, there is a threat of dictatorship,” Mr. Kaczynski said mockingly of his opponents. “We are being compared to Fascists! Me, a modest man, I am being compared to Stalin, Hitler and Lenin.”
On the contrary, he insisted: “We don’t want to destroy democracy. We want to make it real.”
The desire to create respected public service broadcasters has an echo in many former Communist countries, said former President Aleksander Kwasniewski, the only man to have served two five-year terms in that post. But, he noted, that goal may in itself be outdated.
Particularly after a recent visit to Silicon Valley and a look at Google’s work with artificial intelligence, he said he felt vindicated in a long-held conviction that it is more important to develop fresh political ideas than to control terrestrial TV.
“Liberal democracy is in crisis,” he said. “I told my fellow politicians long ago, ‘More vision, less television.’ ”On Jul 4, 2016, at 1:26 PM, Ewa & Stefan Komar <orlicz> wrote:
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