State broadcaster TVP has confirmed media reports that the wife of the station’s former CEO earned over 1.5 million zloty (€342,000) for a little over a year’s work.
She has, however, denied the information and claimed it is part of efforts by the new government – which took office last month – to take “revenge” against her husband, who turned TVP into a mouthpiece for the former ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.
A prominent figure from state TV admits they produced „worse propaganda” than under communism to support the ruling party’s election campaign.
But he thinks this „Stalinist logic” backfired and contributed to the negative outcome of the election for PiS https://t.co/8CsLIeVgNz
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) October 18, 2023
News about Joanna Kurska’s earnings was first reported by Onet, a leading news website, last week. She immediately denied the amounts attributed to her, saying that what she earned was “in line with the salary scale for TVP employees”.
However, on Friday last week, TVP published an official statement confirming the level of Kurska’s earnings reported by Onet.
According to TVP, Kurska (then Klimek) worked as a programme director between February and November 2016 and was paid over 330,000 zloty in total. That included bonuses totalling 93,000 zloty received from Jarosław Kurski, who was head of TVP from January 2016 to September 2022.
In November 2016, she ended her cooperation with TVP to pursue “new professional challenges” and received 138,000 zloty as compensation in connection with the termination of her employment contract. She was also paid six months of compensation for non-competition after termination of employment, totalling nearly 140,000 zloty.
Revelations of the high level of pay for key figures at state TV under the former PiS government – which used the station to promote its agenda – have prompted anger.
But PiS argues there were similarly high salaries at the station before it took power https://t.co/ZuBewtKXkb
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) December 29, 2023
In July 2018, she married Kurski – who had divorced his previous wife in 2015 – in a church ceremony attended by leading figures from the then ruling PiS party, including its chairman Jarosław Kaczyński.
Kurska was then reemployed by TVP from September 2022 to January 2023, earning just over 200,000 zloty in that time. In January 2023, she received almost 290,000 zloty in compensation for the termination of her employment contract and was then paid 432,000 zloty in non-competion compensation for nine months.
TVP confirms that in total, Kurska received over 1.53 million zloty between 2016 and 2023. Onet notes that, over that period, she worked for a total of only 13 months. This means that, on average, she received more than than 117,000 zloty per month.
TVP potwierdza informacje Onetu. Podali zarobki Joanny Kurskiej: „Żona Jacka Kurskiego zarobiła w TVP ponad 1,5 mln zł, choć przepracowała w państwowej telewizji w sumie niewiele ponad rok” https://t.co/4jMKYaJlpJ
— Bertold Kittel (@Bertold_K) January 19, 2024
Kurska, however, continues to deny the claims, and says she will take legal action against her former employer over the issue.
“I am suing TVP for lying that I received a salary of 117,000 zloty per month,” she told the Fakt newspaper on Saturday. “The highest monthly payments I received from TVP did not exceed 32,000 zloty. Of course, these are very high earnings, but commensurate to market success and responsibility.”
Kurska claimed that TVP’s “slander” is a result of the new government’s “obsessive desire for revenge on my husband for the TVP of 2016 to 2022, when the beautiful and strong TVP won the fight for the souls of Poles”.
Last month, less than a week after coming to power, the new government moved to take control of public broadcasters and remove their managers, arguing that this was necessary to “depoliticise” the outlets.
However, their actions have been criticised by PiS as unlawful and a violation of media freedom and pluralism. Recent court decisions have also rejected the methods used by the government.
A court has refused to register the government’s move to put public radio into liquidation.
The decision was welcomed by the opposition, which says it shows the government acted unlawfully.
But the culture minister notes it can still be appealed https://t.co/Y0XxvcUhQm
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) January 22, 2024
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Main image credit: Marek Podmokly / Agencja Wyborcza.pl
Agata Pyka is an assistant editor at Notes from Poland. She is a journalist and a political communication student at the University of Amsterdam. She specialises in Polish and European politics as well as investigative journalism and has previously written for Euractiv and The European Correspondent.