A number of Polish media outlets jointly launched a protest action on February 10 in connection with the proposal of a new tax on advertising income.
This is reported by PAP and Politico.
Banners with the words “Your favorite program should be here” or “This is what the world will look like without independent media” appeared on the main pages.
TVN24 and Polsat News made special appeals instead of the morning program, and the main pages of Onet and Interia publications were covered with a banner of the campaign. A number of radio stations joined the protest — RMF FM, ZET, TOK FM, Rock Radio. A number of media outlets supported their colleagues, writing about the strike — Rzeczpospolita, Gazeta Wyborcza, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, Super Express. “Step by step, the authorities are suppressing free media in Poland,” the editors of Gazeta Wyborcza said.
Before that, 43 media organizations of the country (Agora SA, Dziennik Wschodni, Edipresse Polska, Polska Press Group, TVN SA, Telewisia Polsat and a number of others) addressed an open letter to the Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki.
The signatories of the letter note that some media outlets will have to review their programs with the introduction of this tax, and some will stop their activities altogether. They also insist that they will fall into unequal conditions with the public broadcaster, which receives 2 billion zlotys of state subsidy and is largely controlled by the ruling Law and Justice party.
The new tax provides for fees on media advertising revenue and can range from 2% to 15%, depending on the size of the company.
In the government, the initiative is explained by the need to find an additional source of revenue for the budget against the background of losses from the coronavirus epidemic, and also that this will help to force large international corporations to pay a “fair” share of the tax.
Government Speaker Peter Muller explained that the proposal should only apply to the largest companies. Half of the funds are proposed to be allocated to the National Health Fund, another part — to the National Monument Protection Fund, and a new fund to support “culture and national heritage in the media sphere”.
Critics of the law believe that it is aimed not so much at raising funds as at weakening the independence of the media. In this context, we also recalled the recent statement of the leader of the “PiS” Jaroslaw Kaczynski that non-Polish media in the country “should be a rare exception” and his complaints about the too significant influence of the German media.
The media community’s claim is also that the main impact of the new tax will fall on mainly Polish media, while more attention should be paid to online giants like Facebook or Google.