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Fṛm Đ Gardịn │ Under cover of Covid, Poland is stifling free media – and all Europe should be worried

Gazeta Wyborcza’s front page reads ‘Media without choice’ in February, protesting against the new media tax. Photograph: Wojtek Radwański/AFP/Getty Images
Gazeta Wyborcza’z frunt pej rīdz ‘Mīdia wɖt ćôs’ in Febrri, pṛtstñ agnst ɖ ny mīdịtax. Foṭgraf: Wojtek Radwański/AFP/Geti Iṃjz

Undr cuvr v Covid, Poḷnd z stîḟlñ fri mīdia – n ol Yṛp śd b wurid

(Transcription of a Guardian article of 8 April 2021)

A pland ‘c’roṇvîṛs tax’ on reṿnyz, tgɖr wɖ atacs on foṛn-ǒnd mīdia, ʈretnz t cut awe dmocṛsi pìs bî pìs

Tiṃʈi Gartn Aś, 8 Epril 2021

Dmocṛsi dîz in darcnis. Wn v ɖ Yṛpiyn Yńn’z most frajîl dmocṛsiz, Poḷnd, nǎ fesz ɖ spectr v ɖ nît ɖt fōlz ẃn public-srvis mīdia hv bn trnd intu propganda orgnz fr a rūlñparti ẃl prîṿt, indipndnt mīdia r suḟcetd. In ɖ end, lît z cast no mor on ɖ felñz n abysz v ɖoz in pǎr, bcz ɖr r no mor torćz t śîn ɖt lît. Hunġri – ẃć z no longr a dmocṛsi – hz olmst rīćt ɖt twîlîtmomnt, wɖ ɖ xtñśn v its last mejr indipndnt rediosteśn.

Poḷnd z stl a loñ we fṛm dusc, bt ɖ ʈret z riyl. In ɖ Wrld Presfrīdm Indx, ɖ cuntri hz sunc fṛm 18ʈ in 2015, ahd v Britn n Frans, t 62nd last yir. (Hunġri z dǎn at 89ʈ.)

F y woćt onli Pǒliś stețeḷviźn nyz ovr ɖ last fortnît, y wd hv no îdīa ɖt Poḷnd z cuṛntli amñ ɖ cuntriz dwñ ɖ wrst jrñ ɖ pandemic. Acordñ t Blūmbrg’z Covid-rziłns rancñ, Poḷnd hz fōḷn t 50ʈ ples amñ ɖ wrld’z 53 larjist icoṇmiz, wɖ onli Bṛzil, ɖ Ćeh Rpublic n Mx̣co pformñ wrs. Bt swić on ɖ ofiśl nyz n, aftr brīf mnśn v ɖ lêtist Covid figrz, ɖr r loñ îtmz abt hǎ ɖ guvnmnt z spīdñ p ɖ vax̣neśncampen, wɖ ɖ hlp v ɖ wundrfl armi, n hǎ teṛbl ɖ opziśn’z record wz on public hlʈ ẃn it wz in pǎr. In uɖr “nyz”, y lrn hǎ briłnt Poḷnd’z rleśnz r wɖ ɖ YS, ispeṣ́li in dfns; hǎ mć muni ɖ guvnmnt z pumpñ intu ɖ relwez n locl guvnmnt; hǎ Crisćnz r biyñ prṣktd ol ovr ɖ wrld; n hǎ a grev wz rīsntli uncuvrd śowñ mor victimz v wortîm Jrmn okpeśn. Ɖ propganda z mor xtrim bt olso mor scilfl ɖn jrñ ɖ last deced v coḿnist rūl.

Onli ẃn y trn t ɖ indipndnt TVN24 nyz d y si ftij v loñ cȳz v ambyḷnsz wêtñ ǎtsd hospitlz bcz ɖr r no mor intnsiv-cer bedz, n hír doctrz xplenñ hǎ teṛbl ɖ public-hlʈ sićueśn riyli z. TVN24 z nt BBC-imparśl, bt it dz sirịs jrṇlizm n gvz y ɖ uɖr sîd v ɖ stori. Ɖ sem “tū riaḷtiz” xpirịns cn b hd swićñ fṛm stet t prîṿt redio, or fṛm guvnmnt-s’portñ peprz t indipndnt n opziśn wnz.

Sć a hîpr-poḷrîzd public sfir z olrdi bad inuf, az w si in ɖ YS, bt nǎ ɖ rūlñ Lw n Justis parti hz lōnćt a sisṭmatic atac on indipndnt mīdia. Ɖ meʈ̇dz r stret ǎt v Viktor Orbán’z ple-bc in Hunġri. Public-sectr advtîzñ n sbscripśnz r wɖdrwn fṛm indipndnt mīdia. Ol sorts v reğletri śiceṇri z yzd agnst ɖm. Public muni z pumt intu stet teḷviźn n redio. A “pandemictax” z pṛpozd on mīdia advtîzñreṿny. A pṛjctd lw on ɖ “rīpǒḷnîześn” v mīdia wd targit foṛn ǒnrz v ɖ bigist indipndnt ǎtlets. A stet-ǒnd petṛlcumṗni, PKN Orlen, huz bos z a Lw n Justis parti croni, baiz bʈ a mejr presdstribytr, Ruch, n ɖ larjist netwrc v rījnl nyzpeprz, Polska Pres. Ɖ most criticl peprz r bombardd wɖ lwsūts. Gazeta Wyborcza cǎnts mor ɖn 60 lwsūts, includñ wn fṛm ɖ justisministr in prsn. N, az Yṛpiyn līgl oʈoṛtiz hv rpitidli dtrmind, ɖ indipndns v Pǒliś corts hz bn so far irodd ɖt y cn no longr rlî on a fer trîl.

Ɖs z ɖt old Hungerịn speśiaḷti, s’lāmitactics: iliṃnetñ frīdm slîs bî slîs.

Pǒliś mīdia n sivl ssayti r rzistñ stroñli, bt ɖe nīd a litl hlp fṛm ɖer frendz. Ɖ YS matrz inorṃsli hir. Ɖ Lw n Justis guvnmnt n prezidnt, Andrzej Duda, mc mć v ɖer speśl rleśnśp wɖ Wośñtn. Bt ɖe wr stroñ s’portrz v Doṇld Trump, hu in rtrn gev Duda ilectṛl asistns last sumr. Ɖ admiṇstreśn v Jo Bîdn oz ɖm no fevrz, n it hz an ajnda ɖt clemz t b stroñ on dmocṛsi n hymn rîts. Az wel az dfndñ TVN, ẃć z ǒnd bî ɖ YS cumṗni Dscuṿri, Wośñtn śd nǎ hîlît indipndnt mīdia az ɖ frunt-lîn v dfndñ dmocṛsi in Poḷnd.

Britn cǎnts fr les ɖn it wns dd in Worsw bcz v Brexit bt, alñ wɖ uɖr libṛl dmocṛsiz sć az Caṇda n Ostreła, it cn hlp trn ɖ spotlît on ɖs iśu. Jrṃni z v ɖ frst importns, n a Jrmn-Swis grūp, Ringier Axel Springer, ǒnz wn v ɖ most importnt Pǒliś onlîn platformz, Onet.pl, ɖ tablôd Fakt n a līdñ wīcli, Nyzwīc Polska. Ɖ Pǒliś guvnmnt trîz t sîḷns Brlin bî constntli brññ p ɖ secnd wrldwor, bt ɖ propr lésn fṛm ɖt hisṭri z nt ɖt Jrṃni mst b ptiklrli retisnt on ɖz iśuz. It z prisîsli bcz v ɖt teṛbl past ɖt Jrṃni śd b ɖ frst t spīc p fr frīdm n hymn rîts.

Most importnt, n most probḷmatic, z ɖ YY. Wn v ɖ most dpresñ dscuṿriz v ɖ last fy yirz z ɖt ɖ YY, ẃć spendz so mć tîm tōcñ abt dmocṛsi, z pʈeticli inifctiv ẃn it cmz t dfndñ dmocṛsi insd its ǒn membrstets. Nǎ it z gwñ t hand ǎt mni mor biłnz v yroz t ɖoz stets, bʈ fṛm ɖ YY-wîd post-Covid rcuṿrifund n fṛm ɖ blóc’s ny sevn-yir bujit. Hyj sumz wl g d’recli t ɖ popylist naśṇlist guvnmnts in Worsw n Byḍpest, wɖ onli miniml cndiśnz ataćt. Most v ɖoz gret invstmnts trumṗtd on Pǒliś stețeḷviźn nyz r dn wɖ ɖ hlp v YY muni. At ɖ vri līst, ɖ YY śd mc it cristl-clir ɖt, undr sngl-marcit rūlz, foṛn mīdia ǒnrz me on no acǎnt b dscriṃnetd agnst. It śd dstribyt a sgnificnt ćunc v ɖ ny muni d’recli ʈru locl guvnmnt – az sjstd bî ɖ mẹrz v Worsw n Byḍpest. N it śd criet a sbstanśl YY fund fr ɖ dfns v mīdịfrīdm acrs ɖ continnt.

Last wīc, ɖ līdrśp v Poḷnd’z Lw n Justis parti bgan tōcs wɖ Orbán n Matteo Salvini v Iṭli abt formñ a ny popylist naśṇlist grūpñ in ɖ YY. It z nt jst dmocṛsi in Poḷnd ɖt z at stec hir; it z dmocṛsi in Yṛp az a hol.

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Tiṃʈi Garton Aś z a Gardịn coḷmnist

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Instroduction to Ñspel