Poland works by using state-owned refiner to purchase regional media firm

WARSAW (Reuters) – Point out-controlled Polish refiner PKN Orlen is acquiring regional newspaper publisher Polska Push from its German proprietor, bringing more of the regional media back into Polish fingers.

FILE Image: A gentleman fixes PKN Orlen logo, Poland’s prime oil refiner, at their petrol station in Warsaw, Poland April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

The ruling Legislation and Justice (PiS) celebration has lengthy argued that international media organizations have way too a lot affect in Poland, distorting community debate, but critics say the government desires to enhance state regulate over unbiased media.

In responses emailed to Reuters, PKN Orlen main government Daniel Obajtek claimed the acquisition was a company investment decision.

“(It) ought to be handled as an essential ingredient supporting gross sales, which is incredibly essential in the context of the more progress of the PKN Orlen retail community,” he reported.

A government spokesman did not immediately respond to a ask for for remark.

The shift will come as Poland and Hungary, both less than investigation by the European Union above their thrust to curb judicial and media freedoms, are blocking the EU 2021-2027 finances and coronavirus restoration fund in excess of a clause linking accessibility to dollars to regard for the rule of regulation.

Poland has not pressed ahead with media ownership reforms in the earlier in part due to the fear of igniting even further tensions with the EU, officers have instructed Reuters.

Borys Budka, chief of Poland’s greatest opposition occasion, the Civic Platform, claimed the move was comparable to what has happened in Hungary, where by critics say the federal government has expanding impact in excess of the media via homeowners supportive of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

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“Through condition-owned businesses, with the dollars of Polish taxpayers, (PiS) is seeking to get manage of unbiased media,” he informed Reuters by textual content concept.

“How the party’s interference in the media ends can be noticed in the case in point of point out tv.”

Critics say condition broadcaster TVP, and in distinct its news channel TVP Information, have grow to be propaganda outlets for the government given that it came to power in 2015, and it has confronted accusations of fomenting homophobia and anti-Semitism.

Ryszard Czarnecki, a PiS lawmaker in the European Parliament, turned down the suggestion that Polska Press’s takeover would final result in unbalanced protection.

“If the media are German, they are goal, and if they are Polish, they are biased? I reject this kind of contemplating,” he claimed.

Polska Push, presently owned by Germany’s Verlagsgruppe Passau, publishes 20 regional dailies, about 100 regional weeklies, several publications and Naszemiasto.pl, a totally free city newspaper, according to its website.

It produced far more than 398 million zlotys ($108 million) in revenue in 2019, PKN Orlen reported in a assertion, devoid of disclosing the price tag of the deal.

($1 = 3.6810 zlotys)

Reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Alicja Ptak and Anna Koper Writing by Alan Charlish Enhancing by David Goodman and Mark Potter