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Chris Dziadul Analysis: Zygmunt Solorz's appeal

Zygmunt Solorz is undoubtedly a highly respected figure in Poland’s TV industry, being the founder and majority owner of Polsat, the country’s longest-established commercial broadcaster.

As such, anything he says related to the industry is usually taken seriously, as indeed it should. And this Friday (January 26), he issued a public statement that was effectively a wake-up call on the dangers facing what is still a fragile democracy.

Appealing directly to broadcasters of news channels, including his own, Solorz said that “the most important thing for Poland is to maintain social peace, limit internal divisions and not create new ones”.  He added that while he fully respects freedom of speech and journalistic independence, “these values cannot constitute a pretext for using hate speech, inciting hostility towards each other, spreading xenophobic or racist views that violate the dignity of other people and lead to acts of aggression”.

The background to all this is of course the highly volatile situation that was created in Poland following a general election last October that saw then then ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party fail to secure a working majority. The new government, led by the Civic Coalition, set about implementing far-reaching changes at the public broadcaster TVP in order to “de-politicise” it – prior to the general election TVP was regarded by many as a propaganda mouthpiece for the government – but soon ran into difficulties.

Currently, TVP is in the process of being liquidated, while some of its former employees have moved over to the commercial broadcaster Telewizja Republika, tilting it to the right editorially and increasing viewing figures.

While it remains to be seen if Solorz’s appeal is heeded, it will hopefully at least start a debate on the difficult situation currently facing Poland and broadcasters' responsibilities in a democratic society .

 

 © Chris Dziadul, 2024

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