The dispute over newspapers in Poland – the end of “German control”

PiS politician Elżbieta Kruk: “Should Germany really control the Polish government?” (dpa / photo alliance / Patrick Pleul)

The management mail has become a scandal in Poland. It was written by Mark Dean, Managing Director of Ringier Axel Springer, and handed over to employees

Polish media of this publishing house. These include the largest Polish news portal,, the largest-circulation daily “Fakt” and the political magazine “Newsweek Polska”.

In his e-mail, Dekan cursed the Polish government, especially for its behavior at the recent EU summit. By means of “primitive manipulation” she tried to prevent Donald Tusk from being re-elected president of the EU Council. Journalists should remember that media publishers stand for freedom, the rule of law and a united Europe.

“The letter humiliates us Poles”

Right-wing conservative Polish journalists and government representatives have been outraged by these words for many days, says Patryk Jaki, secretary of state in the Ministry of Justice:

“Journalists play an important role in the state. That is why this letter humiliates us Poles. German publishers send out such e-mails every week and explain to Poles how they should think. Poles should think as the Germans would like them to.

The secretary of state did not mention that Ringier Axer Springer also had Swiss owners and that Mark Dekan himself was Austrian.

The government in Warsaw also reacted. The trial is worrying, said the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was said that a foreign company was interfering in Poland’s internal affairs.

A scandal just in time

The scandal comes at exactly the right moment for the Polish government. She put “foreign media” on the agenda. Elżbieta Kruk, member of the ruling PiS party and chairman of the culture committee:

“We have the domination of foreign capital here. It would be unimaginable in other countries. Almost 80 percent of the print media is owned by foreign corporations, mostly German. is part of a functioning state But should Germany really control the Polish government? “

No, that’s the PiS’s answer. For months, a group of experts has been working on a law aimed at banishing foreign media groups from the country. The ruling party calls it “repolonization.” Minister of Culture Piotr Gliński:

“Ideally, media groups should be given a transitional period during which they can adapt to the new rules. For example, they can sell their media. several dominant market participants. “

The measures are contrary to EU law

Parliament’s Committee on Culture is now discussing a possible law for the first time. The project should be ready by mid-year. Here’s the government’s problem: EU rules. An EU country cannot actually block capital from another Member State. Therefore, the government wants to use leverage where it can prove that a monopoly has arisen. This would probably be possible in the case of regional newspapers, of which only 20 are owned by a subsidiary of the Passau publishing group. However, there is also talk of a fundamental reduction in the share of foreign capital in the media.

All this is a fictional discussion, according to opponents of the government. The rulers did not have so much to foreign media as to critical media. Juliusz Braun, former president of public television:

“This militant term” repolonization “is very dangerous to press freedom. It has an intimidating effect: just watch what you write or we’ll nationalize you otherwise! I am even more concerned that state-dominated corporations may buy foreign media. the government controls their corporations and then becomes the owner of the media. “

Editor’s Note: An earlier version reported that the mail had been sent to journalists from the Polish media of the publishing house. We have corrected this error.

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