OH, HOW THEY ARE TORMENTING MEDIA!
MICHAŁ KARNOWSKI, The author is a publicist of the weekly ‘wSieci’ and the portal wPolityce.pl
I enjoy reading descriptions of situations of media market in Russia on pages of Polish pro-governmental newspapers. They are logical and uncompromised. Correspondents and commentators cleverly catch key elements such as actions of a market regulator, voluntarily using punishments and warnings in order to pacify rests of opposition or independence. Like impudence of governmental propaganda, which enlarges the smallest situation attacking opponents of the authority to the sizes of a big scandal, but omits real scandals and thefts. In these relations one can see also treachery of the authority using friendly oligarchs and businessmen in order to take over control on inconvenient editorial offices. Such treachery is seen also in later explanations of Kremlin: we have nothing in common with it, the market decides! Also the description of mechanism of financing media is precise: good newspapers and television stations get advertisements, the bad ones can only dream about them. Moreover, cited quotations of representatives of harassed editorial offices are popular, and they prove that although formally everyone can broadcast and publish, in fact everyone knows that the authority has effective methods to the rebellious ones.
And what is the reaction of the state? I will not be wrong to say that the state likes these descriptions of situations in Russia (or recently in Ukraine). Reading them we are glad that what is allegedly elusive, is possible to describe. Who knows, maybe one day also our current situation of media, with all differences, will be outlined precisely by historians. Our descendants will find out that the media standard of the Third Polish Republic was directed towards all kinds of vulgarity and all kinds of obscenities, from putting national flags into a dog’s poo to mocking at Catholics through the Stuhr family, but for a good word in a Catholic monthly for educators and encouragement to read it, one could be severely punished. Similarly as it was possible to attack a priest or a bishop in with mud of invented or falsified accusations, but TV report of the March of Independence was punished…..Well, but for what? For ‘atmosphere’ and ‘general impression’.
These last formulations, used by representatives of the National Broadcasting Council quite seriously, in the justification of the punishment for Television Trwam, mean a big breakthrough, bring a new quality towards independent media. Because punishing a broadcaster on the basis of subjective premises means an open violence. Not law, not hard provisions of an act or concession, but impression of media clerks about granting them to the Civic Platform party becomes a criteria of evaluation. We are right to be anxious because here the border of our freedom is the amount of fears and phobias of the chairman Dworak.
Here I recall myself some negotiations of a company publishing our weekly in one of big advert-makers, a company with a big share of state treasury. Its advert chief explained that, indeed, he appreciates the range and sales of the magazine, that he would willingly place an advertisement also in our magazine but, unfortunately, he cannot. A reason? We have an old and village reader. He felt so. Our commercial representatives showed him precise surveys with a smile, the same ones which are used by other magazines, where it is clear: a reader is young, married, have growing children, wants and must but, lives mainly in big and medium-sized towns. And what? And nothing. The man got red and said that he felt different, though.
But I wonder whether Polish journalists describing how authorities are terribly tormenting media in Russia, sometimes get red at least for a while, or never?