Polish channel TVN24 was in the news recently over an attempt to force it to change owners:

The draft bill, which was submitted to Parliament on July 7 by a group of PiS lawmakers, would amend Article 35 of the Broadcasting Act to bar companies which are majority-owned by entities from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) from owning more than a more than 49% stake in Polish media.

TVN24 and its parent company TVN have been 100% owned by U.S.-based Discovery, Inc. since 2015 through a subsidiary registered in the Netherlands, to meet current requirements under Polish law. If approved, the new regulation would strengthen those restrictions to ban Discovery from owning TVN through its Dutch subsidiary.

This means Discovery would have six months to adjust and could be faced with selling 51% of its stakes in TVN, which is valued at around $1 billion. If it did not, TVN’s channels such as TVN24 could be stripped of their media licenses by the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT).

Similar restrictions were in place until 2013 in the US but they've since been repealed. Are there other countries with similar rules of media ownership?

  • 2
    Note that broadcast company is not the same as media company. The former "own" (or rather are licensed) a part of the EM spectrum, so could potentially do physically annoying or even damaging things with it. It's more on par with US/Western worry about giving China a big role in digital infrastructure etc.
    – Fizz
    Aug 10 at 22:52

Yes, such rules are quite common, even in countries which generally place relatively few restrictions on doing business. Many governments believe that allowing foreign investors direct control of national news media gives up too much political influence to outsiders, who may use their platforms to sway public opinion in a direction that is harmful to the country. A few examples from large democracies:

  • India limits foreign investors to 49% ownership of many broadcast services and 26% of newspapers and periodicals dealing with news and current affairs. For digital media, a recent regulation requires that the CEO and a majority of any digital media company’s board of directors must be Indian citizens and limits foreign investment to 26%.

  • Indonesia limits foreign ownership of media and journalism businesses to 49%. In fact, this is a recent liberalization of regulations which previously prohibited all foreign direct investment in such businesses. For broadcasting businesses, the limit is only 20%.

  • Brazil's Law No. 10,610/2002 forbids foreign ownership of more than 30% of news companies and broadcasting companies (radio and TV).

  • Several EU countries limit ownership of media companies by non-EU investors. (EU members are prohibited from blocking media investment from other EU countries.) For example, France limits non-EU investors to 20% ownership of French-language daily newspapers, radio broadcasters, and terrestrial television companies.

  • Canada limits total foreign ownership of companies in the telecommunications (fixed-line and mobile/wireless infrastructure and services) and television broadcasting sectors to 46%.

  • 1
    Huh, are Canada or France criticized for having this law? Sounds like Poland isn't doing anything special. Aug 10 at 23:15
  • 1
    @JonathanReez: I'm not incredibly familiar with TVN24, but form its Wikipedia, they don't seem to have been licensed a part of the spectrum. They're just a cable channel that's annoying to PiS due to its [critical] contents.
    – Fizz
    Aug 10 at 23:23
  • 9
    @JonathanReez No, PIS in Poland really isn't doing anything special here. However, they have been quite autocratic in the last 5 or so years - including severe infringement on judicial autonomy - so anything they do to enforce government/national control gets a more sinister interpretation than it would otherwise. Neither France nor Canada are suspected to be veering towards authoritarianism at this moment. The facts you describe can't be interpreted in isolation, no matter how justified a normal Polish govt might be to cry foul on US ownership. Aug 11 at 1:16
  • 3
    @JonathanReez Poland is hardly the only country that's been criticized for this sort of policy. For example, the US State Department recently accused Canada of "maintaining investment stifling prohibitions in the telecommunication sector." However, friendly countries normally prefer to resolve such disagreements through trade negotiations behind closed doors. As ItalianPhilosophers said, this particular issue probably wouldn't have attracted much attention in the absence of other political and ideological differences.
    – Thorondor
    Aug 11 at 3:31
  • 8
    @JonathanReez The main issue is the timing. The law is practically tailor-made to target TVN, and attempts at modifying the law to exclude non-OECD countries, for example (in accordance to the spirit of the law as told by PiS, which was to exclude authoritarian foreign interests), were rejected. TVN has applied for an extension of its broadcasting license 17 months ago, and KRRiT has not processed it in any way, breaking records in the length of the process, without any reason. Law changing who can be given license is being changed just 1.5 months before TVN broadcasting license expires. Aug 11 at 14:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .