WARSAW, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Poland’s planned advertisement tax will weaken or eliminate some media in the country, tens of publishing groups said in an open letter to Polish authorities and leaders of political parties on Tuesday.
This month, the government announced plans to tax media advertisement, saying it will help raise funds for healthcare and culture, both hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Proceeds will go to Poland’s National Health Fund as well as funds promoting “culture and national heritage” and supporting the protection of monuments, the government said..
“We strongly oppose using the pandemic as an excuse to introduce another, new, exceptionally heavy burden on the media. A persistent burden that will survive the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the letter published by Agora group among others and signed by tens of publishers, including Discovery’s TVN and German Ringier Axel Springer Polska.
The letter said the tax would mean “weakening, and even eliminating some media in Poland” and deepening inequalities between private media and public ones, which the signatories said are heavily supported by the government.
Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) party has promoted patriotism and conservative values since it came to power in 2015, opposing what it calls imported liberalism and multiculturalism.
PiS lawmakers have said foreign media companies have too much influence in Poland. Critics of the government have said it wants to increase state control over independent media.
In December, state-controlled Polish refiner PKN Orlen said it is to buy regional newspaper publisher Polska Press. It also signed under the letter. (Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by David Gregorio)