Poland’s Fresh Administration Undertakes Reformation of Formerly Far-Right Public Media

In Warsaw, it’s 7:30 in the evening, and TVP Info, the public news broadcaster, is preparing to go live to millions of viewers across Poland. The atmosphere is tense in the temporary studio, as most staff are new hires, and the usual headquarters are still occupied by the remnants of the previous government.

TVP Info’s director, Pawel Pluska, explains the challenges they face, including a lack of resources and technical difficulties. The recent change in government marked the end of eight years under the far-right Law and Justice party. The October election saw a historic turnout, resulting in a new liberal government led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

One of the first actions of Tusk’s government was to reclaim control of TVP, which had been transformed into a far-right propaganda machine during Law and Justice’s rule. The previous government’s influence on the broadcaster had even jeopardized European Union funding for violating democracy standards.

Poland’s House Members (Credits: NPR)

Prime Minister Tusk promised to “clean up” the country with an “iron broom,” and the swift changes at TVP have reflected this commitment. Observers have used the term “iron broom” to describe the government’s decisive actions.

Notably, Law and Justice had similarly aggressively taken over the national broadcaster when it first came to power eight years ago, likened to the BBC in the United Kingdom.

Jacek Kucharczyk, director of the Institute of Public Affairs in Warsaw, highlights Law and Justice’s earlier tactics, creating an unconstitutional body to appoint executive boards at the national broadcaster.

This allowed the party to install loyalists who served its political interests, turning TVP into a propaganda outlet attacking opposition parties and politicians.

The aggressive approach of the previous government reached a notorious point in 2019 when Pawel Adamowicz, the mayor of Gdansk, was stabbed to death at a charity event. TVP had subjected him to over 1,800 negative stories in the year prior.

The murderer blamed Adamowicz and his party on TVP’s live broadcast, leading to accusations that the broadcaster shared responsibility for the murder.

Despite mass protests, Law and Justice refused to change the tone of TVP’s content, using it as a tool for party propaganda and fueling polarization in Poland.

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