Culture minister dismisses Polish public media bosses

Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Poland’s culture minister has dismissed the heads of Polish public media outlets, the Polish Television, Polish Radio and the Polish Press Agency.

The companies’ supervisory boards have also been dismissed. New supervisory boards have been appointed and they in turn appointed new management of the media companies, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mateusz Matyszkowicz headed TVP.Albert Zawada/PAP

The Ministry of Culture has said that the decision to dismiss the existing authorities and appoint new ones was taken at the General Meetings of Shareholders by the owner of the Companies, represented by Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz, the culture minister, who has full autonomy to make such decisions.

In the statement, the ministry said that the protective order of the Constitutional Tribunal (TK), Poland’s top court, issued on December 14, in which the court banned the government from making any changes to public media until a case filed with it by former government MPs is resolved, is ineffective and non-binding, quoting an opinion by the State Treasury General Prosecutor’s Office.

The minister said the management changes were dictated by a resolution passed by the Sejm (the lower house of parliament) on Tuesday evening calling on the State Treasury to take action to restore, what was called legal order and the impartiality and integrity of the public media and the Polish Press Agency.

The resolution states that parliament „considers unacceptable the continued open violation of the law and breach by public radio and television entities as well as by the Polish Press Agency of the right to information and the principle of political pluralism stemming from the provisions of the Constitution.”

The Sejm also pledged to immediately proceed with legislative workensuring the permanent restoration of the constitutional status.

Poland’s former opposition parties, which formed a coalition government last week, have for years accused the ex-ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), of having politicised state-owned media. They claim PiS has turned the media into a party mouthpiece. The new ruling coalition now aims to reverse those changes.

They also accuse PiS of having politicised the constitutional court by manning it with former party members and loyalists.

On Wednesday, the day following the publication of the Ministry of Culture’s statement, the state-owned news channel TVP Info’s broadcast was replaced with the general interest channel TVP1 and TVP Info’s website was taken offline.