Some 2 million Polish households are at risk of losing access to commercial TV news broadcasting. Reason? The government's decision to introduce a new broadcasting standard that will affect all broadcasters except for the state-owned TVP.
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The Polish government wants to implement a new technological standard concerning digital terrestrial television broadcasting all over the country. The DVB-T standard, used since 2013, is being changed to DVB-T2/HEVC. The process is already in progress and is supposed to be completed by June 27.

What does it mean in practice?

According to the government, the technological change will mean better sound and picture quality, as all channels will be broadcast in Full HD.

Rules don’t apply to the state TV broadcaster

However, there is a catch. In order to receive television in the new standard, all TV sets must have the appropriate functions. This means that viewers will have to replace their electronic equipment or risk losing access to all television broadcasters... except the state-owned TVP.

Although all channels are required to adapt to the new broadcasting standard, TVP is not. For commercial TV stations, such as Polsat or TVN, it means considerable financial losses.

It is estimated that before the 2023 elections, nearly 2 million people with old TV sets and antennas might lose access to the news programs offered by TVN and Polsat ("Fakty" and "Wydarzenia") that account for 35% of the evening news broadcast market.

Reason? Russia’s war in Ukraine

Why the exception? It was requested by the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration, who asked the Office of Electronic Communications to delay the technological transition for the state broadcaster, arguing that it is necessitated by the ongoing war in Ukraine and the fact that state TV channels are connected to the Regional Warning System.

- The arguments presented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration are certainly valid. I think that the Polish National Television is one of those media that provide Polish citizens with reliable and verified information. We should provide every social group with access to reliable media – explained Adam Andruszkiewicz, the Secretary of State at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister.

„Premeditated action to limit media freedom in Poland"

Back in April, Wyborcza published an open letter written by the members of the Polish Society of Journalists. In it, they called the government’s decision to change the broadcasting standard "a premeditated action (...) used by the government to ensure that the Law and Justice party will stay in power indefinitely".

-Given the extent of the public broadcaster's blatant disinformation, the 2023 parliamentary elections will not be equal. Many Polish citizens will not have access to verified information and balanced opinions, and will instead have to rely on the extremely one-sided narrative pushed by the ruling camp on the airwaves of the supposedly public, but in fact purely partisan, broadcaster- they wrote.

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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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