It is surprising that TVN24 has not yet received the decision to extend the license, which was previously issued on the basis of exactly the same facts, admitted attorney Agnieszka Wiercińska-Krużewska. She explained in the TVN24 studio the legal aspects of the license renewal model by the National Broadcasting Council.
Group of Members Law and Justice she brought it to the Sejm late in the evening on July 7 draft amendment to the Broadcasting Act. “The will of the legislator is that companies based in Poland cannot be controlled by entities from outside the European Economic Area” – it was written in the justification. Commentators agree that the changes are aimed at TVN’s independence.
Representative of the project, PiS MP Marek Suski initially (July 8) claimed that the draft amendment was related to securing “against the possible entry of capital from hostile countries onto the Polish market”. July 11 Instead, he said: – If we manage to pass this law and some part of these shares may also be bought by Polish businessmen, and we will have some influence on what is happening on this television (…).
TVN24 is still waiting for the extension of the license by the National Broadcasting Council. The license expires on September 26, that is in 66 days. An application for its extension was submitted in February 2020. The authors of the expert opinions note that since 2016 – under the same ownership conditions – KRRiT has already issued licenses for TVN24 BiS, TTV and TVN International West.
“This situation for a lawyer is quite awkward and difficult to understand”
Agnieszka Wiercińska-Krużewska, a partner at WKB, was asked about the possible delay in renewing the license for TVN24. “This is a question we probably ask ourselves as lawyers,” she admitted.
She pointed out that “the licenses that have been issued so far were issued on the basis of the same legal status that is in force today and which will be valid for the next few days and weeks”.
– The fact that TVN24 has not yet received the decision to extend the license, which was previously issued on the basis of exactly the same facts, is surprising. It is also surprising that other channels have obtained licenses in the ownership situation in which TVN24 is currently present – she commented.
Wiercińska-Krużewska assessed that “we are dealing with a very strange situation”. – On the one hand, we say: the existing licenses have been issued, i.e. we assume that they have been issued in accordance with the law, because we do not assume that the National Broadcasting Council acted unlawfully. At the moment, we are talking about a concession that is not being extended despite the fact that we have exactly the same conditions – she described.
“This situation for a lawyer is quite awkward and difficult to understand,” she added.
When does a Polish company “can and must obtain a license”?
Can the National Broadcasting Council issue two different decisions for the same legal decision? “He can’t,” replied the lawyer. – You can theoretically build an argument on the basis of the Code of Administrative Procedure, but the authority would have to demonstrate an extraordinary change in conditions in the meantime, something really extraordinary that has changed with the interpretation of the laws.
She added that she did not notice such an extraordinary situation. – We have the rule of law, nothing has changed. We want, as I understand it, to maintain media pluralism, this is the intention of the authorities, we hope so. Therefore, nothing has changed – she said. – We have exactly the same owners, exactly the same regulation that says that a Polish company that is a subsidiary of a company that is registered in the European Economic Area can and must obtain a license – said Wiercińska-Krużewska.
Discovery owns TVN through a subsidiary of Polish Television Holding BV in the Netherlands, and thus belonging to the European Economic Area.
Lawyer: the rules cannot be interpreted
KRRiT claims that the problem lies in the “ownership situation” of the TVN group. The station’s management wrote in a statement that in 2015 the National Broadcasting Council accepted the entry of American capital into TVN. – I do not fully know the reasoning of the representatives of the National Broadcasting Council – admitted the lawyer in reply.
– I understand that it is a bit like that we interpret the rules depending on what we need. At the moment, more is needed an interpretation that would say that the capital that is in TVN is not the capital that should be there. Otherwise it is difficult to understand such a changed interpretation of this law – she added.
She emphasized that the provisions of this type of cases cannot be “interpreted”, and the provisions must result from the provisions of the law. Otherwise, as she said, “it would cause the certainty of trading to be upset.”
Main photo source: TVN