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Poland president signs bill giving government control of media

[JURIST] Polish President Andrzej Duda [official website, in Polish] on Thursday signed [press release, in Polish] a controversial media control bill into law. Under the new law, the treasury minister [official website, in Polish] will replace [IBT report] the National Broadcasting Council [official website, in Polish] in appointing and removing media executives in charge of public radio and television programming. The bill will also shorten [PAP report, in Polish] the terms of the executives and create a new council under the office of the treasury in order to accomplish the goals set forth in the new law. The European Commission (EC) [official website] expressed [JURIST report] its intentions on Sunday to debate Poland's new law on control of state-run media after Warsaw seized control of public broadcasters. According to President Duda's aide [Guardian report], the bill was signed into law because he wants the state media to be impartial, objective and credible.

The ruling centrist party of Poland, the Law and Justice Party (PIS) [party website, in Polish] has rejected [DW report] criticisms that its policies are undermining democracy in Poland. However, there is a larger concern in the EU that new Polish law will erode checks and balances on government powers. In December Poland enacted [JURIST report] a law requiring its highest court to have 13 judges present, as well as a two-thirds majority vote to make a ruling. Earlier last month the leader of the European Parliament compared PIS's rise to power in Poland to a coup [BBC report], leading the government to call for an apology.

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