What does the future hold for the Polish public broadcaster TVP?
The year began in the worst of possible ways, with the company finding itself under the spotlight for changes imposed on it by the recently elected Law and Justice (PiS) government. After amending the country’s Law on Broadcasting, it replaced most of the station’s senior management and set about returning it to what it claimed was its true public service mission.
However, its actions were viewed as political interference of the highest order and attracted widespread criticism, much of it from outside the country. The EBU, in particular, was vocal in its opposition to the changes, and European politicians were quick to criticise developments at TVP and Poland in general.
Since then, TVP has found itself in conflict with – amongst others – the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT). There have also been delays in the enactment of new legislation addressing funding, and in particular receiver licence fees. The latest news is that it will finally be discussed in the parliament (Sejm) in October.
Although TVP relies heavily on advertising, it is losing out on potential revenues from receiver licence fees. It has been estimated that up to 6 million households, or just under half the country’s total, have unregistered TV receivers, while fewer than 2 million actually pay fees.
Under the new legislation, households would have to prove they do not own TV receivers in order to avoid paying a licence fee.
All this has come against the backdrop of a controversial contest to elect a new president for TVP. Jacek Kurski, the incumbent, is still in the post and the front-runner.
At the same time, TVP continues to dismiss staff, many in senior positions, at dizzying speed.
Yet despite this, there have been positive developments and they give rise to some optimism for the future. Having decided to stop sharing its content with other platforms, TVP has seen impressive growth in the use of its on demand service Vod.tvp.pl.
This will shortly start showing content from the BBC thanks to deepening cooperation with BBC Worldwide, and TVP also has plans to offer 360- degree video and VR.
Furthermore, TVP, along with its counterpart in the Czech Republic, also remains a regional pioneer in HbbTV and continues to add to its channel portfolio.
Away from the politics, things look good for TVP. With them factored in, much less so.