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New Polish law could place strict limit on foreign ownership

Polish politicians from the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party are mulling changes in the country’s media rules that could restrict foreign ownership of media assets to as little as 15%, according to local reports.

The PiS government plans to introduce new legislation covering concentration of media ownership in the autumn. According to leading daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, the government has been working on the legislation in secret, and will publish its plans in mid-September.

According to online magazine Super Express, citing an unnamed senior PiS legislator, meanwhile, the government wants to introduce restrictions on foreign media ownership that would limit the share of foreign capital in media groups to 15%.

Such a move would have a major impact on commercial broadcaster TVN, currently owned by Scripps Networks Interactive, which itself is being acquired by Discovery.

A threshold of this type would go far beyond a proposal submitted by media regulator the KRRiT in March for a limit on any one company or group of companies controlling more than a 30% market share in terms of advertising revenue or audience share.

The Russian government introduced a highly controversial 20% limit on foreign ownership of media in 2014 that saw, among others, Modern Times Group exit its interests in the country.

Any attempt by Poland to restrict ownership of media could attract the wrath of the European Union, already in conflict with the Polish government over its attempts to subject the judiciary to political control.

Super Express quoted deputy culture minister Jarosław Sellin as saying that other EU states had regulations in place to prevent domination of the media market by foreign entities.