Advertising tax will not compromise media pluralism - PM

2021-02-14 18:54 update: 2021-02-16, 12:20
Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Phot. PAP/Paweł Supernak
Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Phot. PAP/Paweł Supernak
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said that the government’s planned tax on media advertising revenue will not limit the freedom of expression nor affect media pluralism.

The government has justified the controversial tax, which some have claimed threatens free speech, by saying it will use the proceeds to support the national health care system, the National Monument Protection Fund, and the creation of a fund supporting culture and national heritage in the media.

In a Saturday post on Facebook Morawiecki said that the government's actions "are in line with the general trend of work within the EU and OECD aimed at fairer taxation of global corporations, primarily in the internet sector, but also in the media sector."

"Our concept anticipates some solutions and follows those already implemented in the EU, so that the introduction of a digital tax at the EU or OECD level would not require us to change our law, but only some adjustments," he wrote.

According to Morawiecki, "proceeds from intangible assets such as brands, intellectual property rights or advertising, are particularly easy to shift between the companies' accounts within multinational concerns, in order to avoid taxation."

He said that the financial data of corporations that would be subject to the advertising tax confirm this, and that most of them pay only a small fraction of their revenues in the form of corporate income tax.

He also said that the tax will not apply to smaller, local or regional media. 

In Morawiecki's opinion, the advertising tax proposed by the Polish government is "in line with the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the EU".

He also announced that he intends to present in Brussels "a Polish vision of regulations concerning the management of digital space" (...) "where prime importance is given to the user and his rights, and not those of corporations."

He said that in the Polish vision "there is an appropriate balance between freedom of expression and accountability" and "small and medium-sized enterprises can use the opportunities offered by the digital economy on an equal footing."

On Wednesday, Poland's private TV, radio and web operators blocked their regular programmes countrywide in protest against the tax, which they say threatens media freedom and spells financial ruin for many operators.

The protest was joined by several newspapers.