Discovery's Polish TV Group Decries Reporter Intimidation

(Bloomberg) -- TVN SA, a Polish broadcasting group controlled by Discovery Inc., accused the government of trying to intimidate journalists after agents entered the home of a camera operator who authored an investigative report about neo-Nazis.

Internal Security Agency (ABW) officers on Friday delivered Piotr Wacowski a summons to the prosecutor’s office on charges of propagating Nazism, TVN said in a statement on its website. Wacowski was the co-author of a feature run by TVN in January about meetings of Polish and German neo-Nazis in south-western Poland.

“Authors of the feature operated in line with all standards of investigative journalism,” TVN said in the statement. “Putting someone who reveals criminal activity on the same level as the criminals is an attempt to intimidate journalists.”

The State Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement Sunday that it’s too early to place charges against TVN’s operator and canceled his summons. At the same time it ordered the regional Prosecutor’s Office in Katowice to investigate TVN’s “real role in the event.”

Some pro-government news outlets reported that TVN’s feature might have been staged, while others praised it. This month it received the Andrzej Woyciechowski award that “honours journalists for courage in getting to the truth and revealing what to date has been hidden or understated,” according to the award’s website.

Government Pressure

TVN, one of two major private TV broadcasters in Poland, has been pressured by Polish authorities after the country’s media-market regulator last year imposed a fine on one of its channels for the way it covered anti-government protests. The fine was eventually dropped after protests from the U.S. government and companies.

Since taking power in 2015, Poland’s ruling Law & Justice party has had tumultuous relationships with private media companies, which are often critical of it. Some lawmakers have discussed the need to change media rules in a way that may force some foreign owners out of the country.

The U.S. ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, told some Polish lawmakers at a meeting behind closed doors this week that Polish authorities should not interfere with freedom of the media, according to a report by Agencja Informacyjna Polska Press.

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