According to Wirtualne Media, the first reading on the controversial amendments, drafted by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, will take place later today (June 7). At the heart of the amendments is a requirement for cable operators and DTH platforms to provide details about their subscribers to Polish Post to facilitate the collection of receiver licence fees.
PIKE, which is Poland’s leading cable association, would like to see a public enquiry called should the amendments be passed at the first reading. It also says Polish Post is unprepared to take on the additional responsibilities it would have if the amendments come into effect. The amendments are also opposed by (amongst others) such leading pay-TV providers as ITI Neovision and Cyfrowy Polsat.
Meanwhile, a report on Polskie Radio today said that the Sejm will also consider a proposal by the left-of-centre PSL party to have receiver licence fees abolished and replaced by government subsidies. Completely new legislation governing such fees is expected to come into effect in 2019.
Cable Europe expresses its concern about the actions taken by Poland’s government concerning the regulations aimed at improving the collection of radio and television licence fees. In the opinion of the Association, proposed solutions may be incompatible with the EU law and have a negative impact on competition on the Polish market.
Cable Europe’s comments are prompted by the regulations pushed by the Polish legislature to include pay TV providers in the licence fee collection process. The proposed legislation obliges cable and satellite operators to transfer the personal data of their customers to a designated operator (Poczta Polska – Polish Post) so that the licence fees can be more easily collected.
Cable Europe shares the basic concerns and doubts regarding the compliance of the government’s regulations with certain EU directives, expressed in a joint petition submitted to the European Commission by seven Polish telecommunication and media industry organisations.
According to Matthias Kurth, Executive Chairman of Cable Europe, regulatory changes raise concerns about the freedom of competition and the possible impact on the shape of the media services market in Poland: “As an industry organisation supporting competition in the media market, we will monitor the bill consultation process in the European Commission. We are also ready to support the Polish partners with our knowledge and experience in creating effective regulations that protect the rights of all stakeholders”.