Monday, March 05, 2012

Poland's on air "holy war"

By now everyone in Poland knows it: anyone who touches Radio Maryja, the combative and controversial broadcasting station of the Redemptorist Fathers, which has nothing to do with the homonymous Erba, risks getting into deep trouble and often regrets it. 

The Krajowa Rada Radiofonii i Telewizji, the authority that controls the country's radio and television activities and whose members are appointed by the president and parliament, has shown unusual courage. 

Indeed, this authority, which responsible for dealing with requests to access the third digital terrestrial platform, restricted to so-called new channels (the first was reserved for public television TVP, the second to commercial television), has rejected the request presented by the Lux Veritas Foundation, which owns TRWAM television, to allow Radio Maryja to broadcast. 

Good heavens! 

Without considering the fact that there 17 requests had been made when only 4 spaces available, Lux Veritas addressed the TAR (Regional Administrative Court) of Warsaw, denouncing unequal treatment. 

At the same time intollerance demonstrations began, organized by Radio Maryja itself, which in no time at all managed to collect a million signatures on its letter of protest. Even its listeners did not just sit and watch. 

They gathered in the so-called Rodzina (family), which they overflowed with their letters to KRRT management. In recent days the number of letters received, admitted the president Jan Dworak, has reached 37,000. 

We respect them, but we must act according to law, Dworak said in an interview. 

And the law says that anyone who wants to access a digital terrestrial platform, must show they have sufficient funds to cover costs for 80 million zlotys (20 million Euro) a year.

In truth, the Lux Veritas Foundation currently owns 90 million, but it is a loan granted by the Polish province of the Redemptorist Fathers which must soon be returned.  

Meanwhile, the national-conservative party Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) of the former Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński, which has always had close ties with Radio Maryja and is in debt with its founder, Fr. Tadeusz Rudzyk, which according to many actually controls a few million, but votes, has proposed to refer the members of the KRRT who voted against TRWAM TV before the Constitutional Court.  

An aspect that is rather commercial, so to speak, and does not interest the forces and circles that protest against the lack of a Catholic television on DTT (in essence).  For example, members of the council of Zakopane explain their indignation as such: “We believe that the public of TRWAM television has a right sanctioned by the Constitution to have their own Catholic media in the name of equality before the law and social justice.” 

The Association of Polish Catholic journalists is of the same opinion and recalls that people who watch TRWAM television “pay taxes and fees for public television”, and this should give them “the right to watch it even when it goes digital terrestrial.” 

Even more so that the above mentioned broadcasting station “Is the only one in Poland that undertakes the task of evangelization through television.” 

The platform is considered a "national asset", where “in the name of democracy and pluralism there should also be space for a Catholic voice”.

"Vivid concern" was expressed by various other prelates, including the bishop of Włocławek Wiesław Mering, who laments that the requests and expectations of believers in our country are marginalized.”  

The Bishop of Drohobycz Antoni Dydycz expressed his hope that Poland will implement "true democracy", in the sense that "Catholic media will have the same opportunities as any other.” 

This campaign that both TRWAM TV, and Radio Maryja might soon cease their activities, could have caused concern to some, one of the members of the KRRT Krzysztof Luft admitted, recalling that  these broadcasting stations have had satellite access for some time now, on top of the already existing cable television which is very popular in Poland.

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