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Poland/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.7 Mass media

The media sector in Poland is mainly based on two legal Acts: the Press Law of 26th January 1984 and Broadcasting Act of 29th December 1992, which came into force on March 1 1993.

The major part the Press Law concerns both the printed press and the audiovisual media sectors irrespective of their kind and type. It contains general provisions concerning freedom of expression, access to information, media rights and duties, and the system of the right to reply. It also refers in particular to the legal preconditions to start, register and conduct publishing activity in the printed media market. Since 1989 it has been changed several times, although the regulation of key matters remained untouched.

The Broadcasting Act was amended during the last ten years, mainly due to the fulfilment of Poland's international obligations (Poland has ratified the European Convention on Transfrontier Television of the Council of Europe and is implementing the EU Directive "Television without Frontiers" according to its EU accession obligations).

Programme quotas, which were finally regulated in a detailed manner in line with EU standards, are outlined in the Broadcasting Act of 29 December 1992. According to the final consolidated version of the Act, with amendments in 2004, broadcasters of television programmes are obliged to reserve at least 30% of their quarterly transmission time to programmes originally produced in the Polish language. This binding legal measure is aimed at protecting and promoting the Polish language. A discriminatory article setting out the conditions based on criteria of nationality and citizenship was withdrawn earlier and confirmed in the abovementioned consolidated version of the Act with 2004 amendments.

A duty of fulfilment to the European majority quota has been laid down in a normative manner ensuring that the broadcasters will earmark a majority of the transmission time for European works (Article 15 par.4). A definition of European work has also been elaborated on the basis of standards stipulated by the Community Law. This Act includes an amendment concerning the share of works of independent producers as well as new works in the regular television programming schedule. The broadcasters of television programmes shall reserve at least 10 % of their quarterly transmission time for European works produced by independent producers, taking into account certain exclusions provided by the EU law (e.g. advertisements). Programmes produced not later than 5 years before their transmission in the programme service shall constitute at least 50% of the time reserved for European works produced by independent producers (Article 15 par. 1). The quota of independent production has been also clarified as well as the criteria of preference for recent works rising the period from 3 to 5 years in reference to the time of their production.

The consolidated Act also covers changes affecting the public radio and television sector, mainly the issues related to the public mission i.e. introducing the definition of a public broadcaster, the manner of financing, the organisational structure of public broadcasters and the role of their supervisory bodies.

Since the 2004 amendments, public broadcasters are authorised to produce and transmit thematic programme services, however a license is required to broadcast (Article 21 par. 1a). In 2004 Polish Public television was granted the first license for a thematic programme - TVP Kultura to be transmitted via satellite, devoted to cultural issues (TVP Kultura started transmission in 2005).

The MP's draft amendment to the Broadcasting Act was signed by the President on the 30 Dec. 2005 and came into force in early 2006. The amendment is intended to introduce: changes in the composition of the National Broadcasting Council and to close down the Office for the Regulation of Telecommunications and Post. At the same time, it provided a legal basis for the establishment of the Office of Electronic Communications, which took over some of the tasks from the National Broadcasting Council.

On 6 August 2010, the new Broadcasting Act was passed (OJ 2010, No. 152, item. 1023). It changes the rules of selection of public media authorities. The supervisory boards of Polish Television and Polish Radio comprise 7 people each. Most of the boards' members (altogether 10 people) are appointed by open competition. The candidates are proposed by universities and academies. In each of the boards there are also two representatives of ministers: one of the Minister of Finance and one of the Minister of Culture. The members of the supervisory board can be recalled by the National Broadcasting Council or the relevant Minister. The boards of public broadcasters are appointed by the NBC at the request of the supervisory board.

Chapter published: 20-08-2015

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