The Polish state-run TV channel, TVP Info, has been removed from broadcasting following Prime Minister Donald Tusk's government move to depoliticize public media.

A resolution supported by the Warsaw Parliament on Tuesday evening aimed at ensuring independence, objectivity, and pluralism in public television and radio. The new culture minister dismissed the heads of TVP and Polish Radio as a part of these reforms.

Members of the Law and Justice (PiS) party, who lost power in October, reacted by staging a sit-in at the state TV headquarters.

The former PiS prime minister criticized the Tusk government's actions as illegal, while President Andrzej Duda accused it of violating constitutional principles and the law.

State media plays a crucial role in Poland, with around a third of the population relying solely on it for news due to limited access to private broadcasters. TVP's main evening news broadcasts and TVP Info had been criticized for leaning towards propaganda under the previous government, prompting the new coalition led by pro-EU Prime Minister Donald Tusk to promise a shift towards providing "reliable information."

Protests ensued at TVP headquarters, where PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski joined the demonstration throughout the night, leaving in the early hours of the morning. Upon TVP Info going off-air, he returned with several PiS MPs. The 24-hour news channel initially continued broadcasting on YouTube but eventually ceased transmission.

The new culture minister dismissed heads of state TV, radio, and the state news agency, subsequently causing the news channel to stop broadcasting entirely. Former Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accused the new government of neglecting the rule of law.

Tusk's coalition, sworn in a week ago after winning October elections, swiftly removed PiS appointees from government bodies. This action was part of their promise to reverse PiS reforms. New appointments were made to state security, intelligence, and anti-corruption offices.

PiS, during its tenure, exercised significant control over TVP's narrative, altering media laws and packing public media with journalists favoring its policies. This move was criticized for reducing media pluralism.

PiS also took steps to limit foreign media ownership, leading to objections from the US over a bill that impacted TVN, a US-owned network. Private media outlets, such as TVN 24 news, became more critical of the PiS-led government in response to these actions.

Despite PiS's claims of defending democracy and media pluralism, critics argue that their control over TVP diminished media diversity. The National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) labeled the dismissals as illegal, likening the situation to times of martial law.

Tusk's government faces potential resistance from President Duda, who holds veto powers over legislation. Duda urged the prime minister and cabinet to respect Polish law and warned against changes to state media without legal adherence.

Reports suggest the new government plans a selective staff change at TVP, aiming to dismiss up to 60 employees for violating journalistic standards by Christmas, rather than a widespread purge. Photo by Ralf Lotys (Sicherlich), Wikimedia commons.