We are standing in front of a powerful Goliath

Lidia Dudkiewicz talks to Fr. Dr. Tadeusz Rydzyk – the director of Radio Maryja

LIDIA DUDKIEWICZ: – We are witnesses of the restriction of the word freedom with the breach of international standards resulting, among the others, from the record of the art.11 in the European Charter of Basic Rights, according to which: ‘the freedom and pluralism of media is respected’. What happens with the Television ‘Trwam’ may be understood as the intervention into the right of free speech which is protected by the art 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The free access to the Catholic Television ‘Trwam’ at our homes is being made impossible in our eyes. What does Father think about the decision of the National Radio and Television Council?

FR. TADEUSZ RYDZYK: – In the communist government a minister of religions used to say: ‘We will not allow the Church to come out of a sacristy’. This minister was dealing with religions but not to help believers, who are the majority of the nation, but to disturb them. In communist times any ways were used not to let the Church have more influence on people, especially the youth. At present, it is all about the same. Disregarding the nation means acting against the social justice. It is cynicism. I am astonished because the country is supposed to be for the nation and not the other way round. Why is the free access to the Catholic television taken away from people? After all 90% of our nation are the Catholics. The whole state apparatus is kept also from the tax of poor Poles. And now, it is seen how these people are treated unjustly. There are again attempts to push the nation aside to a sacristy. We had the decisive year 1980 and the outbreak of the ‘Solidarity’ then it was the year 1989 when it seemed that normality had come. And it turned out that destruction of the Church by propaganda and media had come. Various manipulative techniques are used to attack the Church – which Bishop Adam Lepa notes, one of the most prominent experts of media in Poland. I am afraid that there are some anti-evangelical centres which lead these actions. Today it is said that after the year 1989 the authority was changed into ownership. People in authority, took over ownership very quickly, which is called privatization today. The wealth of many generations of Poles was taken away. Media were possessed, also through entering the public media, in order to govern them. People in authority are taking over other social media, while Catholics are strangely behind. Normality will be when there is such a percent of Polish media (I do not say Polish-language but Polish media), as much percent there are Poles, and there will be such a percent of Catholic media as there is a percent of the Catholics. Shortly speaking, Catholic media are media for God and a man which should include the whole man according to the natural law, God’s law. However, it turns out that this understanding of the reality is treated as abnormality. In this way the leftist party – or I would say – liberal totalitarianism managed to dominate so much that for the sake of modernity, that many opinions contradictive with the nature or the common sense are imposed on the society, including the Catholics, and it is treated as something normal. It resulted in the situation that we have to fight for the Catholic television station for Poles. It causes the reverse of the order: in Poland we must defend the rights of the Catholic majority against the actions of the government.

– Discrimination actions are noticed not only in reference to the Television ‘Trwam’. It also concerns Radio Maryja. There was a loud case when in the 90s during the distribution of the concession among private broadcasters Radio Maryja did not receive the coverage for whole Poland. Maybe it is a phenomenon of discrimination of the community of believers at all?

– We can say that Radio Maryja is treated by the National Radio and Television Council in a special way. Radio Maryja did not receive the coverage for whole Poland during the distribution of the concession among private broadcasters. At that time even Seym got engaged in the whole matter, seeing injustice in it. The problem got to the Supreme Control Chamber and this organ gave an opinion that Radio Maryja was discriminated. The National Radio and Television Council have never supplemented powers belonging to Radio Maryja, although it was obliged to do it. Other broadcasters have more powers by 1/3 – and even much more than Radio Maryja. We are nearly in whole Poland but only in a monophony way, other broadcasters have stereophonic reception – these examples show that Catholics are excluded and discriminated. It turns out that Catholics do not have the concession for the ground-based digital broadcasting of television programs while other television broadcasters have a few places on multiplexes. Let’s remember the words of John Paul II which were said in the Polish Seym on 11 July 1999: ‘When human rights are neglected or trampled and if despite the rules of justice, particular interests are considered more than the common welfare, then a seed of inevitable de-stability, revolt and violence is sowed’. And we are afraid of it, therefore we need a dialogue and we need media. Also Catholics must have media and we are fighting for it.

– The representative of the National Radio and Television Council, Jan Dworak stated that economical and financial considerations were the base for rejection of the appeal made by the Foundation Lux Veritatis against the decision of the National Radio and Television Council last year, concerning the refusal to the concession to the Television ‘Trwam’ for broadcasting its program on the digital multiplex. As we know this negative decision has been maintained now. What is Father Director’s opinion on the reason for the refusal of giving the concession?

– We are observing another paradox. Propaganda is being widespread and made public by media that the Church is rich and possesses business imperia. And now, the National Radio and Television Council say that we do not have enough money for television! After all, it is illogical! The Television ‘Trwam’ has been hurt by the National Radio and Television Council. The evaluation of financial documents was subjective. The Catholic Television ‘Trwam’ can praise with its many-years experience, much work as the broadcaster of programs and a good financial situation. However, the companies which not only do not have any possessions but they have not broadcast any television program so far, turned out to be more credible for the National Radio and Television Council. Concluding, we think that the decisions of the National Radio and Television Council concerning the concession are hurting to us. As a consequence, the Television ‘Trwam’ is eliminated, that is, prevented from digital broadcasting, as the only Catholic Television in Poland.

– What does the lack of place for the Television ‘Trwam’ on the digital multiplex mean for the society? What access to the Television ‘Trwam’ will there be for an average Pole?

– It may mean the exclusion and impossibility of free access of the Television ‘Trwam’ to Polish homes already from July 2013.Because the whole chaos around the Television ‘Trwam’ is taking a place in the decisive moment for the future of mass media, and additionally in the circumstances when others receive a few places on the multiplex. As a consequence, we will be pushed away from the further broadcasting. We will remain on the satellite, but we will have very little possibilities to reach to the society with our programs. A new technology is coming and everybody will have several dozens or maybe even more different programs among which there will be not the Television ‘Trwam’ , what is more – there will be no other Catholic television station.

– We notice much social support for the endeavours of the Television ‘Trwam’ for a place on the digital multiplex. The official position was taken by the Permanent Council of the Polish Episcopal Conference. Members of the European Parliament directed a question in this issue to the suitable Commission of the European Parliament. The decision of the National Radio and Television Council alarmed, among the others, Helsinki Human Rights Foundation which addressed the Council with a request for presenting detailed criteria of giving the concession. And what can we do, as Catholics and citizens, in order to have influence on making a fair decision by the National Radio and Television Council?

– We must look at the whole chaos connected with the refusal to the concession for the Television ‘Trwam’ in a broader way. This all is not only about entering the digital multiplex but it is also about a matter of the exclusion of believers from some areas of the public life. Even the opinion of the Permanent Council of the Polish Episcopal Conference was neglected. It is another phase of destroying the national spirit of Poles and the Christian culture. We are facing a powerful strength. When I was in the Senate Hall and the Seym Hall during the meetings of the suitable Commissions of Culture and Mass Media, with a request for the Television ‘Trwam’, I felt that a powerful armed Goliath was standing opposite me. Being there, I saw cynicism, self-confidence, neglect of people – much evil, much misunderstanding. And this all is done by the National Radio and Television Council, people delegated by the president of Poland and representing parties: The Civic Platform (Pol. PO), the Democratic Leftist Alliance (Pol. SLD) and The Polish Peasant Party (Pol. PSL). You are asking what to do – we ask for a prayer. Let the Blessed Virgin Mary win. We must pray for a miracle of conversion, so that there would be no discrimination of believers in Poland, or there would be no liquidation of free media. Let the good in our Homeland win. We must talk to each other. We must also reach to non-believers from different political options and convince them into even obvious matters, that, for example, pluralism obliges, that is a variety of thoughts, opinions, looking for the common welfare and the truth. Besides the dialogue and prayer, we ask for further actions. It means collecting signatures, sending a petition for the defence of the Television ‘Trwam’ to the National radio and Television Council and to the Television ‘Trwam’. For, we should know how many there are protesters, because it turns out that we should have control over it. Today, we have counted over one hundred thousand signatures. There are still many envelopes which have not been opened and counted yet and we are still receiving the new ones. We must act in solidarity because it is about a high stake. Now we are applying for a place for the Catholic Television on the multiplex and, there will appear a matter of radio digital broadcasting soon. In our country there is a war about free Polish Catholic media. The present concession for places on digital multiplexes is very important because concessions for particular channels go together with setting the media order for several near decades. So, it may lead to the digital exclusion of Catholic media in Poland.

(AA)

"Niedziela" 05/2012

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Lidia Dudkiewicz • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl