New government, new TVP. News from the same reality?

Some context on media takeover, showing the new news program.

A color distorted photo of a TV displaying TVP Info, with a modified information strip: "The wrong government knocked to our doors". In the back, there are a few other TVs displaying other channels, and on the right, Samuel Pereira, not looking into the camera, passes by the TV to exit

Little background, because it's a big legal mess. In 2015, when Law and Justice (PiS) took over, having parliament majorities on their own (with 37.5% votes) and their President, they went on a run through institutions, including courts. The judges-members of the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), are getting chosen by the Sejm (lower parliament house), instead of judges, as it was previously. This itself is believed to be unconstitutional, considering Constitution's article 186.1: "The National Council of the Judiciary upholds the independence of the courts and the independence of judges".

Captured over KRS, Supreme Court, Constitutional Tribunal. Judges replaced during their valid term, together with law changes about their courts. Prime minister not publishing judgements in the Journal of Laws. We've seen it all, and I'm surely missing a lot of it here, it's hard to follow through and describe the whole process.

Members of parliament from PiS have turned to the captured Constitutional Tribunal, with a question whether the law allowing to dismiss the boards of state media is constitutional. On 2023-12-14, Przyłębska's Tribunal has decided in a pre-judgment proceeding to secure their claims, by forbidding to dismiss the members of the boards. First of all, the government rejects the Przyłębska Tribunal's rulings. But even then, the Minister of Culture cites experts, saying that the decision cannot impact him as a minister, since he's not a side in the proceeding.

Quick rewind, 2023-12-19

Sejm has received, processed, and voted through the resolution on the restoration of legal order, impartiality, and reliability of public media and the Polish Press Agency. The resolution concludes that the citizens' constitutional right to reliable and impartial information is being violated, and the National Media Council is unconstitutional by Constitutional Tribunal's unexecuted judgement, which the state is supposed to finally execute. It calls for all state institutions to act on this, and especially State Treasury as the owner of these companies (in this context represented by the Minister of Culture and National Inheritance).

It's happening, 2023-12-20

The Minister of Culture and National Heritage, as the body exercising the ownership rights of the State Treasury, which holds 100% of the shares in the Companies, acting pursuant to the provisions of the Commercial Companies Code, on December 19, 2023 dismissed the existing chairpersons of the Management Boards of Telewizja Polska S.A., Polskie Radio S.A. and Polska Agencja Prasowa S.A. and their Supervisory Boards. The Minister appointed new Supervisory Boards of the aforementioned Companies, which in turn appointed new Management Boards of the Companies.

The necessity for such actions and the rationale was determined by the Resolution of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland from December 19, 2023 on the restoration of legal order and the impartiality and credibility of the public media and the Polish Press Agency.

-- tweeted Ministry's account on 10:44.

This process is controversial. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights agrees with the urgent need for public media reforms, but says the method "raises serious legal doubts". "However, we note that the issue of appointing and canceling the compositions of personal bodies of public media is currently regulated by the Radio and Television Broadcasting Act, and the Act on the Polish Press Agency."

"It is a violation of the law, which was created in violation of the Constitution after the 2015 elections. It is illegitimate in the sense that it violates an illegitimate law and undermines the competence of the institutions that uphold the unconstitutional order",
says Piotr Pacewicz from OKO.press.

To put it another way: there is no clear way to restore the rule of law. The new parliament decided to make an attack on the laws that are not legitimate - same way as it has started, also because of the impact that the public media have on the elections. A president willing to proceed with these reforms might be crucial - presidential elections are in 2025. The justification submitted with this resolution directly calls it a "transition process", which should end with a proper public media regulation.

But let me be clear. Many don't care much about the legality or illegality of it, but are just happy that the alternative reality is gone from the terrestial broadcast, from being paid by the state money, from being this big. There's a lot of things that can go better, and not that many can go worse.

And so, on 11:18, the plug was pulled on TVP Info.

Interrupted TVP Info broadcast. [Telewizja Polska S.A. 2023]

The channels and websites turned off, and still off as of 2023-12-23, include: TVP Info, TVP3 (all 16 regional channels), TVP Parlament, TVP World. Everything scheduled has aired, except almost all news programs. Aired programs are: Belsat's Vot Tak - a program in Belarusian, TVP Wilno - targeted at the Polish ethnic minority in Lithuania, and... a part of Agrobiznes, agrarian business news, which has aired partially, and got interrupted by a TVP Info host.

Interrupted Agrobiznes broadcast on TVP1. [Telewizja Polska S.A. 2023]

TVP employees have tried to broadcast where they could. There have been Facebook live streams made from phones, inside the main headquarters on Woronicza. There has been a YouTube livestream, started by Samuel Pereira, TVP Info editor-in-chief, who was broadcasting a TV from his phone's camera, "deleted by uploader" during the stream.

Fragment of the YouTube broadcast [Telewizja Polska S.A., 2023, supposedly]

YouTube and Twitter accounts seem to still be in control of the previous team, though. They also still occupy the Powstańców Warszawy building, from which Television Information Agency (TAI) has operated, broadcasting TVP Info and all news programs. Instead of the top news program, viewers have seen this:

Replacement speech for The News on 2023-12-20 [Telewizja Polska S.A. 2023]

The pretty quick takeover was possible due to the technic and security workers, who willingly cooperated with the new bosses. Supposedly, they either didn't support PiS in the first place, or didn't want to lose work due to this bullshit.

More interestingly, the previous TVP chairman, Mateusz Matyszkowicz, simply left his office.

And there comes the news, again, 2023-12-21

Next day, as promised, the new news have aired. I'm doing a thing no serious news org would do - publishing the whole, 0.5h material, with translated captions. I could talk much about it, what it contains, what's wrong about it, but it might be best, if I simply let you watch it.

It's a news program made in 24 hours, and looks exactly like it. Or worse, because the reporting got edited only a few hours earlier, with source materials brought by taxis. Reportedly, it still doesn't have a proper studio. TAI is still occupied, and after a PiS MP has entered the studio after the previous day's broadcast, TVP feared sabotage, and it was aired from a studio rented from ZPR Media.

The 19:30 program on 2023-12-20 [Telewizja Polska S.A. 2023]

I'm not sure what to think about it myself. The only opinion I'll cite, if you want a TL;DR, is a joint statement of OKO.press journalists: "No longer propaganda, but not quite yet a good TV".

Edited to correct the studio

some cooler entities to also read. generated with frenring.