A TORTUOUS ROAD TO TOTALITARISM IN MASS MEDIA
By the means of financial and barriers legislative tricks, the present authority wants to not only restrict but also destroy free mass media.
On 29 September 2012 a big march under the motto ‘ Wake up, Poland’, many earlier marches in many cities in Poland, many acts of self-governing authorities, nearly two and a half million of Poles’ signatures in the defence of the Television Trwam – and the authority is laughing into face and is deriding. And not only does it give in the matter of the Television Trwam but it also creates law (and rather it creates lawlessness), whose visible purpose is not only blocking the development of the Television Trwam, but a complete liquidation of free Catholic mass media in Poland, especially, including the Radio Maryja.
Blockage – for the Television Trwam, fees for installments – for ‘one’s own people’
I write: the authority, because it is not all about the National Broadcasting Council, which is completely dependent and residual towards the president and the parliamentary –governmental majority, which was set up and can be cancelled by them. This constitutional organ became a part of the authority apparatus which is afraid of Catholic mass media, because it is afraid of the truth.
The case of blocking the access of the Television Trwam to the multiplex is generally known. The lawlessness of this blockage, a pure discrimination of the application of the foundation ‘Lux Veritatis’ were presented in their opinion by Andrzej Wieczorek, who resigned from the front of blockage of the Television Trwam and wrote how unreliably the National Council was considering the applications.
At the same time there appeared also a report of the Supreme Control Chamber, which described astonishing practices of arranging concession fees in installments by the president of the Council. 63 million zlotys of the fixed concession fees was arranged in installments through many years.
There was a kind of cynicism in these decisions towards the Television Trwam. For, the Council refused to grant a place on the multiplex to the Television Trwam, saying that this Television station does not have money, and is too poor. These places were granted to other broadcasters which were acknowledged by the Council as rich enough. And later, after immediate granting the concession the Council acknowledged these rich broadcasters as poor, unable to pay concession fees and arranged their payments in installments. Having read the report of the Supreme Control Chamber I addressed a notice to prosecutors, seeing a crime of office in the proceeding of the Council, which is based on abusing rights and acting at the harm of the country. However, prosecutors did not see any crime. Well, they did not even see it in the Amber Gold either.
63 million in installments – will the country see this money?
Whereas we cannot be sure whether these installments granted to ‘their own people’ with a generous hand will be paid at all or the Polish country will ever see this money, and this is – let’s recall – 63 million zlotys. In 2011 the Constitutional Tribunal questioned legality of the regulation of the National Broadcasting Council, deciding about the rate of concession fees. The regulation lost power on 3 August 2012, and, the Seym has not passed any act which would define the rate of fees till this day. Now, some legal games will surely start about proving that when the regulation ceased to exist, the other fees agreed earlier expired as well, and new law cannot function in reverse. In order not to allow for it, the Club of Law and Justice introduced a project of act in July, which defines the rates of concession fees at the previous rate. However, the Marshal Ewa Kopacz refused a quick proceeding on this act. 3 August passed, and there is lack of regulations which would define the rate of concession fees.
Prohibitive fees, dependent on the whim of the authority
The action was joined by the senate dominated by the Civic Platform and proposed its own project of the act agreed with the National Broadcasting, which was passed during the last meeting of the Seym. It is not known why the Senate, not the government, proposed the initiative, but it was probably about the fact that the governmental project would have had to be discussed, whereas the project of the senate does not have to be. And the act passed in the Seym introduces significant raising concession fees which can reach even up to 26 million zlotys. These new raised fees, also concerning the concession for the Radio Maryja and Television Trwam are impossible to pay by broadcasters, maintaining through social gifts. The authority found a simple way to destroy the Radio Maryja and the Television Trwam – prohibitive, impossible fees to pay. And the concession fees were arranged into installments for their favorites and they were provided with a safe existence.
Freedom of installments
The recently passed act is an act of cynicism of the authority not only in respect to the increased maximum fees, but also due to granting the freedom to the Council in their arrangement into installments. For, in the act the maximum rate of concession fees was defined, but also a way of calculating the fees was left to the decision of the National Council in the regulations which do not exist at present. There is no guarantee for the social, non-commercial broadcasters which would protect them from concession fees at a rate close to the maximum. If the council wants (and to whom it wants), will be able to decide quite legally (because it has been doubtful so far) about arranging the fees in installments. Shortly speaking - you are ours, you are with the authority or at least you do not criticize it – you have concession, you have installments. And the other way round – you are not going with the authority hand to hand, leg to leg, you are criticizing, you demand something – then you are not going to receive the concession or we will refuse to arrange installments for you and you will have to pay or disappear.
The experience of near past, the discrimination of the Radio Maryja in the 90s described by the Supreme Control Chamber, the present discrimination of the Television Trwam show that new legal and financial tools will surely be used by the National Broadcasting Council, in its present composition and political orientation in the fight against the Catholic mass media and its attempt to destroy them.
It is a way to totalitarism
The prime minister Donald Tusk can tell about love and family and gain another vote of confidence, the president Bronisław Komorowski can tell about independence and democracy, the Seym and Senate can have meetings, independent courts and tribunals can act – but Poland is becoming a more and more totalitarian country. The country deserves this name, in which the will of millions of people is derided at, who want a free voice of Catholic mass media at their homes. The country deserves this name, in which through financial barriers and legislative tricks, not only the freedom of mass media but also their existence is becoming dependent on a whim of the authority; this authority, which states that it has nobody to lose with, and which wants to govern life-long or forever.
There is hope in that the nation is waking up and it may put the end to this ‘eternity’.