This for all of you people out there in the world; things are pretty shaky in Poland. In fact - the ruling party Law and Justice is trying to take over the media by imposing horrendous taxes on private TV stations or newspapers. Today,  these are protesting.

On Wednesday, some private media protest in a joint action called Media Without Choice. Since morning, TVN24 and Polsat News broadcast a special announcement instead of the program. On TVN24, Onet, and Interia portals readers will not see any article. Some daily newspapers and radio stations have also joined the movement.

At the beginning of February, a bill that will result in the introduction of a tax on the Internet advertising and conventional advertising was entered into the government's legislative worklist. It is a bill on additional revenues of the National Health Fund, the National Fund for Monuments Protection, and the establishment of the Fund for Support of Culture and National Heritage in the Media Area. According to the bill, half of the revenue from advertising premiums is to go to the National Health Fund. Many private media are protesting against the introduction of the new contribution.

As part of the Media Without Choice campaign, on Wednesday morning all channels of the Polsat Television Group, Discovery Group's TVN, and Puls Television broadcast a special message instead of a program. A black board displays the caption "Here was supposed to be your favorite program", with an explanation below: "We apologize to our viewers and business partners. Thank you for your understanding and support" and a reference to a joint open letter on the websites.

Such a board is being broadcasted non-stop both on channels in digital terrestrial television (including TVN, Polsat, TV Puls, Metro, Fokus TV, Nowa TV), as well as on pay-TV thematic channels (including sports channels - from the Eurosport and Eleven Sports groups).

"The government proposal imposes additional burdens on independent media operating on the Polish market. This is deeply disturbing for the industry, but most of all for the Polish viewer, listener, reader, and Internet user. It will also attack Polish productions, culture, entertainment, sports, and media. The Media Without Choice action is a symbolic vision: Polish viewers may be deprived of choice and diversity of the media they are used to," claims TVN Discovery Group in a statement sent to Wirtualnemedia.pl.

Biggest web portals without new content

On many portals of private publishers, readers cannot read any articles since the morning. The front pages display the caption "Media without choice" and a joint open letter published on Tuesday by about 40 private media companies in protest against the ad tax.

Such messages are available on all Ringier Axel Springer Polska sites (e.g. Onet.pl, Fakt.pl, Newsweek.pl, Komputerswiat.pl, Noizz.pl), Wirtualna Polska (WP.pl), Agora (including Gazeta.pl, Wyborcza.pl, TOKFM.pl), Cyfrowy Polsat Group (including Interia.pl, Polsatnews.pl) and TVN Discovery Group (including TVN24.pl, TVN.pl), naTemat.pl.

"This is where your favorite website should be. Today, however, you won't read any content here. Find out what the world would look like without independent media. The Media Without Choice campaign has been launched. Read our open letter to the authorities of the Republic of Poland. The most important thing for us is that YOU have a choice. We thank our users and business partners for understanding and support," we read on the Onet website.

In some web portals, including WP.pl, websites of "Rzeczpospolita", "Parkiet", "Puls Biznesu", "Wprost" and dailies of Polska Press, the message of protest against the advertising tax is displayed at the top of the home pages, while Internet users can read the rest of the current news.

Others only announce the protest

The largest private radio broadcasters take part in the action, too. All radio stations of RMF Group, Agora Radio Group, and Eurozet broadcast only an announcement informing about the joint protest against the advertising tax.

"Ladies and gentlemen, you will not hear any of our normal programs today. Instead, we are broadcasting a special message about Media Without Choice. It is a form of our protest," one can hear on Eurozet stations.

"The government wants to destroy independent media by charging them a new additional tax on advertising. Advertisements are our only source of income. We are protesting so that you can see what Poland will look like without independent media. What Poland will look like without your favorite radio, television, newspaper, internet portal, streaming service, or cinema," they explained.

They apologized to listeners and business partners for the change in today's schedule and encouraged them to support the campaign. "You can support us by sending an e-mail in defense of the independent media to the President, Prime Minister, your MP, or Senator. We would like to thank you in advance for this," it was stated in the announcement.

40 companies in a joint protest against advertising tax

On Tuesday afternoon, about 40 private media companies said in a joint statement that the ad tax "is simply a tribute, hitting the Polish viewer, listener, reader, and Internet user, as well as Polish productions, culture, entertainment, sports, and media."

They list four main consequences of the new levy: "weakening or even liquidation of some of the media operating in Poland, which will significantly limit the public's ability to choose the content that interests them; limiting the possibility of financing quality and local content. Their production currently provides a living for hundreds of thousands of employees and their families and provides the majority of Poles with access to information, entertainment, and sports events largely free of charge; deepening the unequal treatment of entities operating in the Polish media market, in a situation where the state media receive PLN 2 billion annually from the pockets of every Pole, while private media are charged with an additional tribute of PLN 1 billion; actually favoring companies that do not invest in the creation of Polish, local content at the expense of entities that invest the most in Poland."

They criticize the different advertising tax rates and thresholds set for individual media. "Asymmetrical and selective burdening of particular companies is also scandalous. Additionally, what is unacceptable in the state of the law is an attempt to change concession conditions during their validity period," they comment.

They point out that according to estimates, companies described by the government as "global digital giants" will pay about PLN 50-100 million zlotys annually in new taxes, while other media, operating mainly in Poland, will pay 800 million.

Source: Wirtualnemedia.pl

Opublikowano w Nowości w Standardzie

Bałtycki Łańcuch był pokojową demonstracją polityczną, która odbyła się 23 sierpnia 1989 roku, kiedy to około dwa miliony ludzi chwyciło się za ręce tworząc 600-kilometrowy łańcuch ludzki biegnący przez kraje nadbałtyckie (Estonię, Łotwę i Litwę), wykazując w ten sposób ich jedność w dążeniu do wolności.

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