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Kantar’s public opinion survey shows that 91% of Polish citizens noticed the "Media Without Choice" protest which happened last week. On Wednesday, February 10, in an unprecedented show of solidarity, the majority of Polish internet news portals, radio and television stations, and newspapers protested against the government’s plans to introduce a new advertising tax. Broadcasters suspended, limited, or changed the usual way they provide information, showing protest messages or displaying a black screen with the single sentence "Media Without Choice" written in big, bold, white letters instead. On their front pages, newspapers published an open letter to public authorities and political leaders in which they oppose the idea of introducing a new tax on media advertising revenue, arguing that it would hit free and independent outlets especially hard, thus limiting the public’s access to reliable sources of information.

The protest has been noticed among all age groups, including the oldest respondents (87% of those aged 60-75), and residents of rural areas (87% as well). In smaller towns (20-100 thousand inhabitants), a record 98% noticed the media blackout. Considering that not all Poles consume media on a daily basis, the results are impressive.

Even though during the protest information about it was rather scarce (many outlets did not broadcast any program at all), already on the next day, as many as 62% of respondents declared their support for it. Another 18% were undecided, which could be explained by the initial lack of detailed information about the reasons behind the protest.

The protest found most supporters among young people aged 15-24 (71%). Among adults (25-59 years old), nearly two-thirds of respondents supported the action (63 %). Even among the elderly (60-75 years old), the majority were supportive of the protest, but in this category, a large percentage of respondents could not name the reasons behind it, and as many as 27% were undecided.

Interestingly, the action found most support in medium-sized and large cities (20.000 – 500.000 inhabitants) - 70-72 %. In small towns (up to 20.000 inhabitants), it reached 62%- only two percentage points less than in much larger cities (over 500.000 inhabitants).

The protest stimulated collective imagination by showing what Poland would look like without independent media. As many as 69% of surveyed respondents realized the importance of media plurality. The vast majority of Poles see independent media outlets as guardians of democracy and are afraid of what a world without them might look like.

The survey shows that Polish citizens are aware that the new tax would not only affect the media but would also have a negative impact on ordinary viewers, listeners, readers, and internet users, as it might trigger a spike in prices. Moreover, according to the survey, Poles are convinced that their government is using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to undermine media freedom (65% of respondents). At the same time, they believe that financial help for business owners affected by the numerous lockdowns has been insufficient. Only 22% of respondents assess the government’s response as satisfactory.

Source: Kantar Polska opinion poll commissioned by the Radio Broadcast Research Committee. Conducted on February 11, on a representative sample of 1010 full-age Polish citizens, using the Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing method.

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