European Journalists Accuse Poland of "Political Manipulation" Over Advertising Ban

Leaders of the European Federation of Journalists, Europe's largest journalists' group, have condemned the Government of Poland for "political manipulation of the media market" over a ban on certain state advertising in some of the country's major newspapers.

"The Government has imposed a ban which is targeting critical voices in the mass media," said Gustl Glattfelder, Chairman of the EFJ Steering Committee, which met in Brussels at the weekend. "Such political manipulation of the market is a threat to independent media in the country and a violation of European standards of freedom of information."

The EFJ protest follows a decision to break with traditional arrangements and to restrict the distribution of lucrative advertisements for treasury bills and bonds only to government-friendly media.

"The fact that advertising has been withdrawn from some of the highest circulation daily newspapers shows that this is an act of political spite, and is not based on economic judgement," said Glattfelder. He said the newspapers that are affected by the ban are those critical of government policy. Many of them may suffer as a result of the loss of income.

The EFJ is supporting protests in Warsaw by journalists, editors and media owners against the ban and plans to raise the issue with the Council of Europe and the European Union. "This ban violates European standards and should be lifted," says the EFJ. "Clear and fair rules regarding the allocation of public advertising are vital to prevent political discrimination and government interference in the media market."