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Discovery to retain ownership of Polish broadcaster TVN after media bill veto

Discovery will not be forced to sell its Polish broadcaster TVN after the country’s president Andrzej Duda vetoed a controversial media bill that would have prevented foreign ownership of local media companies.

David Zaslav

President Duda’s decision comes shortly after Poland’s parliament passed the legislation in December, prompting outrage from the US factual giant.

Had the bill been made law, non-European companies would have been outlawed from controlling more than a 49% stake in local TV or radio firms.

This would have hit Discovery the hardest. The media firm, which has been a big investor in the Polish media industry under CEO David Zaslav, would have been forced to give up its control of broadcaster TVN, Poland’s largest private television network, and TVN24, the country’s largest independent news network.

Some have called the bill, known as Lex TVN, an attempt to silence critics of the country’s conservative ruling Law and Justice party, in particular TVN and TVN24, whose reporters have often called out the party.

Polish people had also voiced concern over the proposals, with many having participated in protests across the country.

But the law was shut down by the president on December 27. He said in a televised statement that it could violate a treaty signed with the US on economic and trade relations, according to Reuters.

In a subsequent statement, Discovery said the veto represented a “victory for the Polish people.”

A spokesperson added: “We commend the president for doing the right thing and standing up for core democratic values of a free press and the rule of law, and we want to thank all the viewers and everyone that has supported this important issue.”

TVN was co-founded in 1997 by Polish businessmen Mariusz Walter and Jan Wejchert and Swiss entrepreneur Bruno Valsangiacomo. It is owned by TVN Group, which was acquired by US-based Scripps Networks in 2015. Discovery subsequently bought Scripps, and TVN Group has been a subsidiary of Discovery since March 2018.


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