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- I’m watching them, I understand their political fights, I have participated in some of them myself and I am convinced that the Polish government will do what is necessary and make the right decision. They want to grow American investments as well. I have great faith that the Polish people and the politicians they’ve elected will find the right spot here- Mike Pompeo, former US Secretary of State in Donald Trump's cabinet, said in an interview with TVN24 on Friday.  

Among other things, Mr Pompeo was asked about the planned changes to the Polish Broadcasting Act. By amending the legislation, the ruling camp is hoping to ban companies from outside the European Economic Area (EU member states plus Liechtenstein, Iceland, and Norway) from owning more than a 49% stake in Polish media. If passed, the new law would effectively force the American-owned Discovery Inc. into selling the majority of its stocks in TVN- Poland’s largest independent news network.

Law and Justice MP Marek Suski, who initiated the bill and is currently one of its most avid proponents, spoke openly about the fact that the new law is about putting pressure on the American-owned TV station. Although the broadcasting license for TVN24 expires as soon as September 26 and the station submitted all necessary paperwork already 17 months ago, Poland’s National Broadcasting Council has not yet decided whether it will extend the license.

Mike Pompeo: A fair justice system is a must

Pompeo said that "the stakes are really high" because the enactment of the "anti-TVN bill" would have an adverse effect on American investments in Poland. - The United States is investing in Poland on a gigantic scale and this cannot change. We need Polish ideas, Polish technology, good trade relations - he said, recalling the good relations between the Trump administration and Andrzej Duda.                                                                             

- American companies always choose places where they can make money. We’re talking about commercial ventures. They choose places where investments can bring the highest return and the political, business and diplomatic risks are as low as possible- Pompeo emphasized. - If an investor comes in and sees that they are unable to invest because they don't have confidence in the integrity of the judiciary to safeguard their interests in terms of possible compensation and property rights, that always creates risk- he added.

Bipartisan pressure on the Polish government

Pompeo’s comments echo the concerns of other high-ranking US politicians. In a rare show of unity, officials from both sides of the aisle have recently warned the Polish government against passing the contested media bill. On Friday, six members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, including its chairman Gregory W. Meeks from the Democratic Party and the ranking Republican member Michael McCaul, signed a joint statement voicing their concern about "the ongoing attacks on the free press, independent judiciary and the rule of law in Poland".

The document reads that the ruling party’s attack on TVN and its plans to introduce a bill that would effectively force the  American media company out of the Polish market is "part and parcel of a troubling trend regarding independent media in Poland".

Last Wednesday, a bipartisan group of US senators directly warned the Law and Justice government against taking actions that "could have negative implications for defense, business and trade relations" between the US and Poland.

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Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about Polish politics and society, keeping a critical eye on the ruling camp’s persistent assault on democratic values and the rule of law; the growing cultural tension between religious fundamentalism and human rights; and the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. Our journalists are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities, reporting from the streets, hospitals, and courtrooms about issues that move public opinion.

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