Polskie Radio (Polish Radio) is Poland‘s national public service radio broadcaster. Founded in 1925, Polish Radio runs eight radio channels and a network of 17 regional radio stations. The broadcaster also runs city channels in seven Polish cities as well as the international channel Radio Poland with its English TheNews.pl news portal.

Media assets

Radio: National- Jedynka, Dwójka, Trójka, Czwórka, Polskie Radio 24 (PR24), Polskie Radio Chopin, Polskie Radio Dzieciom; Regional- Radio Białystok, Radio Pomorza i Kujaw, Radio Gdańsk, Radio Katowice, Radio Kielce, Radio Koszalin, Radio Kraków, Radio Lublin, Radio Łódź, Radio Olsztyn, Radio Opole, Radio Poznań, Radio Rzeszów, Radio Szczecin, Polskie Radio RDC, Radio Wrocław, Radio Zachód, City- Radio Gorzów, Radio Free, MC Radio, Radio Słupsk, Radio Szczecin Extra, Radio RAM, Radio Zielona Góra; International- Radio Poland

News portal: TheNews

State Media Matrix Typology: State-Controlled (SC)

Ownership and governance

The public broadcasting media in Poland (TVP and Polish Radio) are governed by the Act on radio and television broadcasting (known as the Broadcasting Act) adopted in 1992 and later amended. Polish Radio operates as a wholly-owned State Treasury joint-stock company. The Minister of State Treasury set out the statutes of Polish radio in consultation with the KRRiT.

The legal provisions adopted in 2015-2016 that changed the governance structures of the public media affected Polish radio in a similar manner as they affected TVP.

After opposition parties won sufficient seats in the elections on 15 October 2023 to take power from the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, the public service media in the country, including TVP, Polish Radio, and the news agency PAP have gone through major changes.

The new coalition, consisting of the centrist Civic Coalition (KO), center-right Third Way (Trzecia Droga) and The Left (Lewica), led by prime minister Donald Tusk, began a reform of the public media in the country in the fall of 2023 in its ambition to reform these institutions into independent, impartial and pluralistic news outlets.

However, attempts to do that have been blocked by the Polish president Andrzej Duda, who represents the interests of the PiS. In late December 2023, he vetoed a bill put forward by the coalition related to the state media subsidies. Duda argued that the newly elected coalition is “illegally” seizing public media. As a result, the culture minister announced on 27 December 2023 that it put TVP, Polish Radio and PAP into liquidation. The move came after the management of TVP, known to be PiS loyalists, was sacked before Christmas 2023.

Source of funding and budget

As its bigger sister organization TVP, Polish Radio is funded through a combination of license fee, government subsidies and advertising. Polskie Radio (Polish Radio) usually gets some 40% of the revenue generated through the license fee for public media. However, as in the case of TVP, the government regularly steps in to cover the loss incurred by the radio broadcaster because of the low license fee collection rates. Although in some years it represents less than 50% of Polish Radio’s budget, the state subsidy is used by the government as a powerful control tool of the public media.

Editorial independence

Although the government has exerted for a long time significant influence in the editorial affairs of the Polish public media (TVP and Polish Radio), the legal changes adopted in 2015 and 2016 further cemented this control by giving the government full power over the outlets’ employment structures. The effects were seen immediately as most of the independent journalists from both TVP and Polish Radio were sacked shortly after the adoption of the 2015 legal amendments.

Journalists supportive of the PiS party have been employed instead, which transformed TVP and Polish Radio into openly pro-government media outlets.

Numerous reports from media NGOs, independent journalists and experts that criticized the increased government control over the editorial independence of the Polish public media have been published during the past five years. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Polish public media are mere “government propaganda mouthpieces.”

In the past five years, PiS politicians were appointed to the top management of the station, with negative consequences on the station’s editorial coverage.

The responsibilities of the public service media in Poland, TVP and Polish Radio, are enshrined in the Broadcasting Act. Although these legal provisions require the public media, among other things, to offer “services involving information, journalism, culture, entertainment, education and sport services which are characterized by pluralism, impartiality, balance and autonomy as well as innovation, high quality and integrity of the transmitted message,” they are vaguely worded, having no impact on the editorial independence of the broadcasters as they are routinely ignored.

Through funding schemes and control of the governing structure, the government exerts total control of the outlets’ editorial affairs.

No independent/oversight mechanism to validate Polish Radio’s editorial independence has been identified.

October 2023