The Polish government has narrowly won a vote to ban non-European companies controlling Polish broadcasters.
The law could force Discovery to sell its Polish operation, TVN, which owns TVN24, the country’s largest independent news network.
The bill passed Poland’s lower house in a vote of 228 to 216, with 10 abstentions. To become law, it still has to be passed by the Senate, which is controlled by the country’s opposition party. It’s expected they will reject it, meaning it the bill will return to the lower house where it will need an absolute majority to pass and be signed by Poland’s president Andrzej Duda.
Following the vote, Discovery released a statement stating it was “extremely concerned” about the result but “remains resolute in its defense of the rights of the Polish people and the TVN business”.
“The act as adopted is an attack on core democratic principles of freedom of speech, the independence of the media and is directly discriminatory against TVN and Discovery,” added the statement. “The outcome should also be deeply concerning to any enterprise investing in Poland. Through this vote, Poland directly undermines the values that have connected Poland with Europe, uproots the foundation of the Polish-American relationship. The Polish parliament has opted to restrict the right of Polish viewers to choose and access reliable and independent information.”
Discovery went on to appeal to the Senate and president Duda “oppose this project and prevent it from becoming law. Poland’s future as a democratic country in the international arena and its credibility in the eyes of investors depend on this.”