Poland: TVN24 channel fined on incitement charges

ARTICLE 19 submitted the following alert to the Council of Europe Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists.

On 7 December 2017 the National Broadcasting Council of Poland issued a decision fining independent broadcaster TVN 1 479 000 PLN (352 000 EUR) for inciting hatred and threatening public safety in relation to material broadcast on the channel TVN24.

They allege that TVN24 news channel’s coverage of protests that took place in front of the Polish Parliament on 16-18 December 2016, violated Article 18(1) and Article 18(3) of the 1992 Broadcasting Act.

These clauses state that “Programmes or other broadcasts may not encourage actions contrary to law and Poland’s raison d’Etat or propagate attitudes and beliefs contrary to the moral values and social interest. In particular, they may not include contents inciting to hatred or discriminating on grounds of race, disability, sex, religion or nationality” and “Programmes or other broadcasts may not encourage conduct prejudicial to health, safety or the natural environment”.

The decision notes that it was issued after “thorough monitoring” of media coverage on six channels: TVN, TVN24, Polsat, Polsat News, TVP and TVP Info. The decision does not state or describe what content violated these clauses.

TVN is the most widely watched independent broadcaster, often critical of the current government. A number of media freedom and journalist organisations have raised concerns that the decision amounts to censorship and is a punishment for TVN`s critical coverage. The channel announced that it would appeal the regulator’s decision.

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