Poland’s President Andrzej Duda vetoed a bill that would force Discovery Inc. to sell most of the country’s most popular private television network, defusing a row that strained relations with the US.
The bill, adopted in a surprise parliamentary vote on December 17, blindsided Washington and sent thousands of Poles to the streets in protest over what they saw as the ruling nationalists attempt to muzzle an independent broadcaster. If implemented, the law would have forced the US media giant to sell more than 50% in its local unit.
“We agreed to something and we need to keep our word,” Duda said at a press conference referring to a treaty Poland had signed with the US back in 1990. “Most of my compatriots don’t want any more disputes.”
The legislation put Duda in a tight spot. A former member of the ruling Law & Justice party, he was pressed by his political allies to sign the legislation without delay. Meanwhile, the US urged the Nato-member to veto the bill, arguing it would harm investor sentiment and media freedom.
TVN’s influential news channel has been a thorn in the government’s side, chronicling instances of sleaze and corruption by the ruling party during their six-year reign.