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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » June 3, 2009
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New Deal for Public Media
June 3, 2009   
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The lower house of the parliament overwhelmingly passed a new bill on the public media May 21, voting 257-162 with six abstentions. The bill, drafted jointly by the ruling coalition's Civic Platform (PO) and the Polish Peasants' Party (PSL) together with the opposition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), significantly changes the financing rules for public broadcasters Telewizja Polska (Polish Television, TVP) and Polskie Radio (Polish Radio). It also introduces programming licenses for TV and radio that specify the activities that get the public funds.

The new media bill requires that the state budget include no less than zl.900 million annually for the media, which was the amount collected in license fees from radio-TV users in 2007. The monthly fee of zl.17 for owning a TV or radio set will be abolished next year.

The new funding system is classified as public aid and therefore needs approval from the European commission before it takes effect. Once the bill becomes law, the current term of the National Radio and Television Council (KRRiT) will expire, as will those of the managing and supervisory boards of TVP and Polskie Radio. The board members will stay in office until their replacements are appointed.

The bill enlarges the council from five to seven members, three of whom will be appointed by the lower house of the parliament, two by the upper house and two by the president. The terms will be staggered so that one lower house appointee will be replaced every other year and the upper house and presidential choices every three years.

The bill's enactment may face a major obstacle in President Lech Kaczyński. Although a presidential veto is highly unlikely-the parties supporting the bill could easily overturn a veto-the president may refer the bill to the Constitutional Tribunal, which would take several months. This option has already been requested by the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party, the party of the president which is led by his twin brother Jarosław Kaczyński.
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