In a shocking turn of events, Discovery is facing a potential sale of its business in Poland following the parliamentary greenlight for a controversial new media bill.
Known as Lex TVN, the bill looks to prevent non-European ownership of Polish media companies. It was first proposed in July by Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice party (PiS), which said that TV and radio license holders can’t be directly or indirectly controlled by entities that aren’t in the European Economic Area. The new media law puts a target squarely on Discovery, the U.S. owners of Poland’s TVN Group, which operates the country’s most prominent news channel, TVN24. Valued at around $2 billion, TVN represents America’s largest investment in Poland.
The bill has been making its way around the houses of parliament over the summer. Although the Senate moved to reject the bill in September, it was voted through by the Sejm (upper house of parliament) on Friday, meaning it has just one rung left — presidential approval — before it becomes law.
A spokesperson for Discovery told Variety: “The outcome of today’s surprise vote in the Polish Parliament should be deeply concerning to any enterprise investing in Poland and to anyone who cares about democracy and freedom of the press.
“Through this vote, Poland risks directly undermining the values that have connected Poland with Europe, and uprooting the foundation of the Polish-American relationship. We now appeal to the President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, to oppose this project and prevent it from becoming law.”
More to come.