European broadcasters and media experts took part in a conference in Warsaw today on the role and importance of public media. Media experts, representatives of Polish public media, the Polish National Broadcasting Council (KKRiT) as well as guests from Denmark, Latvia, France and the UK took part in the meeting.
One of the topics discussed was the mode of funding public media and attempts to free broadcasters from political influences. The amendment to the Polish media bill proposed by the current Polish government - which wants to abolish the licence fee and replace it by direct funding from taxation - was also discussed.
Many of those from abroad said that the media cannot remain impartial if financed from the state budget. Krzysztof Czabanski, chief of Poland’s public radio broadcaster, Polish Radio, stressed the necessity to retain the licence fee and warned against a forced commercialization of public media.
The amendment to the media bill was criticized as a threat to democracy and to the independence of the public media, although some participants disagreed.
The conference was organised by Polish Television and the KKRiT. Currently the licence fee in Poland is around 53 Euros annually – 60 percent of the revenue goes to public television, TVP, and the rest to Polish Radio.
The government points out that under 50 percent of households and 98 percent of busneeses do not pay the fee. PM Donald Tusk has said that, in effect, the licence fee is an uncollectable tax and other sources of funding should be found. Supporters of the licence fee point out that virtually all European countries fund public media partly or exclusively from licence fee revenue.
(Source: Polish Radio)