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“We are taking over Polska Press. Thanks to this investment, we will have access to 17.4 million readers online. It will help us to strengthen our sales department and further enhance our big data tools” – Obajtek announced on Twitter on Monday afternoon. Orlen is buying Polska Press from the German publishing group Verlagsgruppe Passau (VGP).
While in his announcement Obajtek tried to show possible business synergies for the petrol retailer, it is difficult to see this decision as not motivated by political factors. Obajtek himself is considered a Law and Justice loyalist whose career in state-owned enterprises results from his willingness to toe the party line.
The plans to take over the regional newspaper sector have been long discussed by the ruling camp. In July, during his first interview after Andrzej Duda’s reelection, Jarosław Kaczyński announced that the Law and Justice “needs to change the situation in the media. We don't want decisions to be made somewhere outside Poland's borders. The authorities in Poland cannot agree that a part of the national nervous system is in foreign hands.”
Other high-ranked ruling camp officials offered a similar narrative on the need to change the ownership status of Polska Press over the last several months.
- When we talk about repolonisation, we think about transforming the media so that they represent the Polish interest, that they are with and for Poles - this is how the head of the parliamentary committee on culture and a member of the National Media Council, Elżbieta Kruk, a member of the Law and Justice party, described her party’s plans to “re-Polonise” the media sector in July.
Joanna Lichocka, widely considered to be the ruling camp’s leading voice on media legislation, alluded to the government’s plans to remove Verlagsgruppe Passau from the regional media sector in August by claiming that “if one publisher has a 90 percent share of regional media, it's difficult to talk about pluralism”.
Now this share of the market will belong to the state-owned, government-controlled petrol retailer headed by a CEO serving at the pleasure of the Law and Justice party.
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