Court rejects Polish government’s move to put public radio into liquidation

A court has refused to register the move made by Poland’s culture minister, Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz, last month to put state broadcaster Polskie Radio into liquidation.

The decision marks a further legal blow to the new government’s efforts to regain control of public media from the former ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. But Sienkiewicz notes that today’s decision is not final and is likely to be appealed.

Postawienie mediów publicznych w stan likwidacji jest nielegalne❗️Sąd rejestrowy oddalił wniosek o wpis likwidacji Polskiego Radia S.A. do KRS.

Panie @BartSienkiewicz niech Pańscy ludzie jak najszybciej opuszczą spółki medialne!

— Krzysztof Szczucki (@KrzSzczucki) January 22, 2024

On 27 December, Sienkiewicz, announced that he was putting state broadcasters TVP and Polskie Radio as well as the Polish Press Agency (PAP) into liquidation. He justified the decision on the basis that President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, had vetoed funding for public media.

Duda had done so in response to an earlier move by Sienkiewicz to replace the management of public media, which PiS had condemned as unlawful. Earlier this month, a court agreed, refusing to register those management changes in the National Court Register (KRS), Poland’s official company register.

Now in a separate decision, the district court in Warsaw has also refused to register the liquidation of Polskie Radio in the KRS.

“The unprecedented nature of this case requires broader considerations and a thorough analysis of the provisions of specific laws, case law and doctrine,” wrote the court in its justification.

🇵🇱🎙️#Poland: In latest podcast episode of Media Freedom In Focus, we spoke with @danieltilles1, the editor-in-chief of @notesfrompoland, about the battle currently ranging for the future of Poland’s politicised public media & assess the changes so far👇

— IPI – The Global Network for Independent Media (@globalfreemedia) January 19, 2024

The decision was welcomed by PiS. Mariusz Błaszczak, the head of the party’s parliamentary caucus, said that it shows that the liquidator appointed by Sienkiewicz to run Polskie Radio “no longer has any basis” to do so.

“The presence at the headquarters of Polish Radio of ‘authorities’ assigned by Sienkiewicz is unlawful,” wrote another PiS MP, Marcin Przydacz

“It was physical strength that put them there,” he added. “And in a democratic state ruled by law, the force of law should decide. Mr Sienkiewicz, it’s time to end this usurpation.”

Zarówno decyzja o powołaniu nowego zarządu, jak i o wprowadzeniu Polskiego Radia w stan likwidacji nie zostały wpisane do KRS przez sąd rejestrowy! Neolikwidator nie ma już jakiejkolwiek podstawy do tego, by dalej zarządzać spółką.

— Mariusz Błaszczak (@mblaszczak) January 22, 2024

However, in response to today’s court decision, Sienkiewicz issued a statement arguing that it currently has no legal force. He claimed that entry or not into the KRS has only “declaratory” and “informational” value. “It does not establish the rights or status of bodies.”

The minister also announced that Polskie Radio’s liquidator is likely to immediately file a complaint against today’s decision, which would result in it having no legal force until that complaint is examined by the court. There would then also be a further right of appeal.

“Only a final judgement by a commercial court invaliding the resolution [to put Polskie Radio into liquidation] could effectively question the legality of the process,” wrote Sienkiewicz.

The minister also noted that a number of other decisions to put local branches of Polskie Radio into liquidation have already been accepted into the KRS, including one in a decision made by the same court in Warsaw.

Informacja Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego w sprawie wpisu w Krajowym Rejestrze Sądowym odnośnie władz Polskiego Radia S.A. w likwidacji

Dzisiejszy (z dnia 22 stycznia 2024 roku) wpis referendarza sądowego Karoliny Ilczuk w Krajowym Rejestrze Sądowym, odmawiający…

— Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego (@kultura_gov_pl) January 22, 2024

Upon coming to power last month, the new ruling coalition, led by Donald Tusk, pledged to “depoliticise” public media, which had been turned into a propaganda mouthpiece by the PiS government.

However, its efforts to do so have drawn controversy, being criticised not only by PiS but also many legal experts.

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

Podobne wpisy

Dodaj komentarz

Twój adres e-mail nie zostanie opublikowany. Wymagane pola są oznaczone *