TVN vote – international media reaction

Photo courtesy of TVN
Photo courtesy of TVN
The Sejm’s vote to pass the Broadcasting Law – which would prevent companies from outside the European Economic Area holding a controlling stake in Polish media companies, thereby forcing TVN owner Discovery Group to sell its stake – has reverberated around the world, most strikingly in the USA

The following news items appeared in PT Weekly, Poland Today’s weekly business newsletter, on Friday 13 August – free to register here

TVN vote – international media reaction overview

The passing of the Broadcasting Law, commonly referred to as ‘Lex Anti-TVN’, by the Sejm (the Polish parliament’s lower house) in a late-night vote on Tuesday, has dominated the Polish political scene and attracted global attention – most of it critical.

Here is an overview of international media coverage of these developments:

Under the headline ‘Poland pushes ahead with bill criticized as attack on U.S.-owned TV channel and press freedom’, The Washington Post reported: “Poland’s populist government on Wednesday advanced legislation that would restrict foreign ownership of local broadcasters — a move seen as targeting an independent TV channel controlled by a major U.S. media group. The bill has been criticized by the Biden administration and opposition lawmakers in the country.” TVN 24, it notes, “has been critical of Law and Justice, the right-wing party that leads Poland’s coalition government.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the article goes on to say, is “deeply troubled” by the draft legislation.

The Financial Times states that the vote “comes amid a broader dismantling of checks and balances under the PiS government, which has neutered the country’s Constitutional Tribunal, tried to purge the Supreme Court and introduced a disciplinary regime under which judges can be punished for the content of their rulings.” It goes further, saying: “The change to Poland’s media law was the latest in a series of moves by PiS that have undermined media freedoms and helped push the country from 18th to 64th in the World Press Freedom index, below Malawi and Armenia, over the past half-decade. Since coming to power in 2015, PiS has reduced the public broadcaster to a claque, used a state-owned oil group to buy up a swath of local media outlets and funnelled advertising from state-owned companies to supportive media groups.”

Politico leads with the headline ‘Poland’s ruling party rams through media law despite US warnings’ and quotes US State Department spokesman Ned Price, who said that Washington was watching developments around the media bill very closely. “The government of Poland now has an opportunity to show in deed, and not only in word, that it stands by the values that unite our transatlantic alliance and the values that bind the United States and Poland.” Politico also includes a comment by Marcin Zaborowski, policy director of think tank Globsec: “On the American side, the legislative and executive powers have made it clear to Warsaw that proceeding with this law won’t go without consequences to Polish-American relations. Pushing for the law regardless of these clear messages means that PiS doesn’t care anymore about maintaining a good relationship between Poland and the U.S.” According to Maciej Witucki, head of the Lewiatan business owners grouping: “It is very probable that before any American company invests a single dollar in Poland, it will think about it 10 times.”

The UK’s The Guardian included tweets by former Prime Minister and former President of the European Council, Donald Tusk: “The parliamentary majority, glued together with the mud of corruption and blackmail, is crumbling before our eyes. It may go on for a while but it is no longer able to govern,” and by Tomasz Grodzki, the Senate Speaker: “The democratic majority in the senate will never approve an attack on independent media. We will uphold freedom of speech.” The Guardian was one of the few international media titles which also picked up on another major piece of legislation that was voted in, writing: “Blinken also called on Poland not to proceed with another controversial piece of legislation that is likely to make it harder for Jews to recover property seized by Nazi German occupiers during the Holocaust and kept by postwar communist rulers. (Prime Minister) Morawiecki said the law was implementing a 2015 ruling by Poland’s constitutional tribunal that a deadline must be set after which faulty administrative decisions can no longer be challenged.”

Germany’s English-language title Deutsche Welle (DW) wrote an opinion piece titled: ‘Poland’s ruling party crosses a line with controversial media bill’. Setting the context, it writes: “A year and a half ago, TVN applied to renew its broadcasting license. But the permit failed to materialize and the old one expires next month. And with the law now passed in the lower house, Discovery, as the American owner, will fundamentally lose the right to operate a TV station in Poland. The Senate, as the second chamber of parliament, can still reject the decision, but it does not have the final say. The leader of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), Jarosław Kaczyński, knew exactly what he was doing when, on the eve of the vote in the Sejm, the lower house of parliament, he allowed the dismissal of a member of the government who did not want to support the law.” The article goes on to speculate about what the repercussions of the vote might be: “Following the decision by the lower house to pass the media law, it’s hard to imagine how Kaczynski’s PiS party will continue to prosper. The move is a direct attack on a specific media outlet and, more broadly, on the freedom of the press, and at the same time, it delivers a blow to the close economic and political relations with the US. It’s all going a step too far.”


Other news:

Iconic flip-flop brand to enter Warsaw stock market

Flip-flop company Kubota – whose merchandise from China was first seen in Poland over 25 years ago –  plans to enter Warsaw’s NewConnect bourse at the end of 2021 / beginning of 2022. The iconic brand from the 90s has also recently released its first clothing collection. “We were unable to meet demand last year so this year we have drawn conclusions and we intend to push forward with stable financing” declared Piotr Kwiatkowski, the President of the Management Board of Kubota, according to Business Insider. The company hopes to obtain PLN 2.5 million from the first public offering (IPO), and the offering party will be Dom Maklerski INC SA in Poznań. Kubota will offer up to 192,300 shares at the issue price of PLN 13. The value of the company after introducing its shares should amount to approx. PLN 17 million, which the company wants to spend on hiring new employees, developing an online store and increasing its inventory.


Poland’s largest bank breaks profit record

Bank PKO BP beat a historic record by generating a profit of PLN 7 mln in 2Q 2021 – despite a growing number of lawsuits from the so-called “frankowicze”, people touched by the Swiss Franc lending crisis. The bank is preparing to settle in the majority of cases and has put away PLN 6 bn for this purpose.

Y-y growth was 54% higher, from 1.3 billion to 2.4 billion, however – according to Business Insider – market analysts were expecting better results. Predictions were 3.4% greater than the actual numbers and as a result the bank lost share price value on Thursday. Nevertheless, the bank said it needed to resolve the issue: “In the opinion of the capital group, reaching a compromise and reaching a settlement is more beneficial for both the capital group and its clients than engaging in long-term court proceedings with an uncertain resolution,” stated the bank in its report.

Record warehouse space under construction

The Polish warehouse market experienced robust occupier demand in H1 2021, with take-up at 3.3m sqm, according to real estate consultancy and brokerage company Axi Immo. Logistics companies and e-commerce retailers accounted for over half of all space leased. Supply also remains high, with 1.1m sqm delivered in the first six months of 2021. This high absorption of space has resulted in a decline in availability, to 5.4% of stock at the end of June. However, with the amount of space under construction at an all-time high of 3.4m sqm, the vacancy rate is expected to stabilise in the upcoming quarters, says Axi Immo.

Investment volume on the Polish commercial real estate market in the first half of 2021 stood at EUR 2 billion across 60 transactions, with the logistics and industrial sector accounting for 40% (EUR 900m) of the total. The largest transaction in the sector was the sale of the AEW portfolio to REINO Capital & IO Asset Management, with the latter two firms representing the Grosvenor Group. The portfolio is made up of five properties with a total area of 166,000 sqm, located in Upper Silesia, Poznań and Łódź. The second largest deal was the takeover of properties located in Warsaw and Wrocław (124,000 sqm) by a confidential buyer. The third spot belongs to Savills Investment Management, who acquired Castorama Stryków BTS (101,500 sqm) from Tritax EuroBox.

In the first six months of 2021 developers completed 1.1m sqm (-2% y/y) of modern industrial and logistics space, taking the total stock to the level of 21.7m sqm (+11% y/y). The second quarter saw a rapid increase in the amount of space under construction, to an all-time high of 3.4m sqm as at the end of June (+96% y/y). The largest schemes currently underway are: Panattoni BTS Amazon in Świebodzin, Western Poland (203,500 sqm), Panattoni CEL HUB – BTO Media Expert in Łódź (158,000 sqm), Hillwood Rokitno, Western Poland (112,500 sqm), Panattoni Poznań X – BTS DHL (108,000 sqm) and Hillwood Bydgoszcz (102,000 sqm). The share of speculative development remained relatively low at 29% at the end of June (up from 26% at the end of March).


EUR 150 bn for almost a thousand large-scale projects in Poland by 2026

The growth potential of the Polish construction market will remain significant through 2026 on the back of the continuation of ambitious road and railway infrastructure projects, the required power transformation of the Polish economy and the steadily robust performance of the residential construction sector – according to a report by construction market research firm Spectis entitled “Construction market in Poland 2021-2026 – Analysis of 16 regions”. A vast majority of projects underway or planned to be implemented are located in the six most economically advanced regions, which jointly account for two-thirds of the construction market’s value.

The total value of the 960 largest investment projects underway or planned in Poland is estimated at over EUR 150 bn. For the report, Spectis focused on the top 60 projects in each of Poland’s 16 voivodeships: 30 building construction projects and 30 civil engineering projects. Pomorskie and Mazowieckie are in the lead in terms of project value. In Mazowieckie, the largest numbers of projects are planned in the following segments: power, airport, hydro-technical, road, office and residential. In Pomorskie, the leading segments include power, hydro technical construction, road and railway projects.

Besides civil engineering construction, residential construction will remain a major driving engine behind the construction sector’s growth in the regions. A vast majority of the voivodeships witnessed positive growth in terms of the number of flats for which construction permits were issued in 2020. Regions with significant increases in this respect included Lubuskie and Kujawsko-Pomorskie (up by 22-25%), as well as Śląskie, Świętokrzyskie and Zachodniopomorskie (12-18%). Single-digit decreases in construction permits were reported by Dolnoslaskie, Lodzkie, Warmińsko-Mazurskie and Mazowieckie. According to forecasts released by Spectis, the average annual number of flats delivered for use will exceed 225,000 in 2021-2026.

Kajetan Duszyński crossing the finish line in the mixed 4x400m relay,
Photo by Marek Biczyk PKOL
Kajetan Duszyński crossing the finish line in the mixed 4x400m relay, Photo by Marek Biczyk PKOL

Poland at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 – stars of track & field

Despite a disappointing start, Poland came out of the Olympics with 4 gold, 5 silver and 5 bronze medals – 14 in total – plus a world record (without resulting in a medal). The Polish team finished 17th in the medals ranking, the best position since Beijing in 2008. Here’s an overview:

4 gold

The Poles came out strongest in athletics (if the Olympics only consisted of track and field, Poland would have been ranked 3rd after the USA and Italy). The gold medals were won in:

Mixed 4 x 400 metre relay by Karol Zalewski, Natalia Kaczmarek, Justyna Święty-Ersetic, Kajetan Duszyński.
Hammer throw by Anita Włodarczyk, who won her 3rd gold medal
Hammer Throw by Wojciech Nowicki.
Men’s 50km walk by Dawid Tomala

5 silver

Rowing by Agnieszka Kobus-Zawojska, Marta Wieliczko, Maria Sajdak i Katarzyna Zillmann – who were the first to earn a medal for Poland in Tokyo.
Javelin throw by Maria Andrejczyk
4 x 400 metre relay by Natalia Kaczmarek, Iga Baumgart-Witan, Małgorzata Hołub-Kowalik and Justyna Święty-Ersetic
Sailing (470 class) by Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Jolanta Ogar
Canoeing K-2 500 metres by Karolina Naja and Anna Puławska

5 bronze

Wrestling by Tadeusz Michalik
Hammer throw by Malwina Kopron
Hammer throw by Paweł Fajdek
800m by Patryk Dobek
Rowing 400m by Karolina Naja, Anna Puławska, Justyna Iskrzycka and Helena Wiśniewska

A speedy World Record – but no medal

An honourable mention goes to Aleksandra Mirosław, who broke the world record in speed climbing with a time of 6.84 minutes, beating the WR by 0.12s. Strange as it may seem, this did not guarantee her a medal since Miroslaw specialises solely in Speed climbing, and is weaker in the other two disciplines of Bouldering and Lead. Olympic climbing, which made its debut during these Olympics, was presented in a controversial format combining all three disciplines: Speed, Bouldering and Lead climbing together, each requiring different skill sets. Before the competition Mirosław expressed her concern over the unusual hybrid event but had pledged to try her best anyway.

Poland’s best results of the post-communist era came in the Atlanta Olympics of 1996, when the team won 7 gold, 5 silver and 5 bronze medals, coming 11th in the ranking. Its worst – in Rio in 2016, with 2 golds, 3 silvers and 6 bronzes, coming in 33rd. Overall in history, Poland sits in 19th place. Not bad for a country in 38th position by population.

Business news compiled by Poland Today from Polish daily media and original sources

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