Discovery has blasted the Polish parliament’s decision to pass a bill that could ban foreign ownership of media companies in the European nation, which could mean it loses control of more than half of TVN Group.
If ratified by the President, the controversial Lex-TVN legislation could have severe consequences for Discovery’s standing in Poland. Discovery acquired TVN when it bought Scripps Networks International in 2018 and operates a range of TV channels, news networks and online platforms.
The bill would prevent companies from outside the European Economic Area taking control of Polish radio and TV stations, potentially forcing Discovery to divest at least half its ownership of TVN. In August, the bill passed through the Polish lower house, or sejm, by 12 votes, before the senate attempted to reject the bill, a move that failed today when it was again approved.
Observers were taken by surprise by today’s return to the bill and ratification, according to Bloomberg, which said the U.S. government has been piling pressure on the ruling Law & Justice Party for months. Law & Justice has repeatedly criticized Discovery’s impact on TVN’s news coverage of the government.
Only Polish President Andrzej Duda’s seal of approval is now required and a Discovery statement this afternoon urged Duda to “keep his word and veto the legislation.”
“The outcome of today’s surprise vote in the Polish Parliament should alarm any enterprise investing in Poland and anyone who cares about democracy and freedom of the press,” said the statement. “Through this vote, Poland undermines the values that have connected Poland with Europe, and uproots the foundation of the Polish-American relationship.”
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