The International Press Institute (IPI) today joins its partners in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) in publishing a report examining the fragile state of press freedom in Poland ahead of the country’s general election on 15 October 2023.

The report explores how media capture and the widespread use of vexatious lawsuits have been used to create a hostile climate for independent journalism that weakens media’s ability to contribute to free and fair elections.

The mission was organised by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR). The delegation comprised of representatives of ARTICLE 19 Europe, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), and International Press Institute (IPI). 

The mission took place in Warsaw between 11 – 13 September and met with a wide range of editors, journalists, regulators, civil society groups, lawyers, the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Ministry of Culture.

Click here to download the full report

Key findings include: 

– The public media have been fully converted into a propaganda arm of the ruling party.

–        The National Broadcasting Council, KRRiT, has abused its licensing powers to create business uncertainty and is applying arbitrary financial penalties to impose fear and self-censorship in newsrooms.

–        Media pluralism was compromised when, in 2021, the state-controlled oil company, PKN Orlen, took over the largest regional media company, Polska Press. The subsequent editorial purge and shift in editorial lines to favour the ruling party ahead of upcoming elections makes it one of the most flagrant examples of media capture in Europe.

–        State advertising has been weaponised by the government to fund favourable media outlets and undermine independent journalism which exacerbates the financial pressure on media.

–        Polish media are subjected to one of the largest number of vexatious lawsuits, or SLAPPs, in the European Union. Most are initiated by ruling party politicians, state companies, and public institutions and therefore financed by public money.

–        While Polish media have proved resilient thanks to the presence of foreign owners, the hostile economic climate may force many to withdraw. Such a move is likely to have a devastating impact on media pluralism.

–        The overwhelming majority of commentators met by the mission expressed deep concern that the country was at a crossroads and that four more years of the current policy would accelerate media capture and push Poland down the path to emulating the media environment in Hungary, Turkey, or Russia.


The full report is available hereA Polish language translation of the report will be published shortly.



This report was produced as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response, which tracks, monitors, and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and candidate countries. This project provides legal and practical support, public advocacy and information to protect journalists and media workers. The MFRR is organised by a consortium led by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) including ARTICLE 19, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the International Press Institute (IPI), and Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT). The project is co-funded by the European Commission.