Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Poland's 1997 constitution forbids censorship of the media. However, libel and slander are criminal offenses, and concerns over the chilling effect of lawsuits against journalists are growing. At the end of 2003, more than 40 investigations were pending against journalists and editors for violations of the press laws, defamation, or misuse of confidential information. In October, an international businessman implicated in a financial scandal in Poland's largest insurance company filed lawsuits against the publications that broke the story, and in November, a district court placed a gag order on the publications, barring them from running the story. Controversy continues over a 2002 broadcast law designed to limit cross-ownership of media by private companies, which critics claim was aimed at keeping the nation's main daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, from buying a stake in a television station. Gazeta Wyborcza's editor-in-chief recorded conversations with film producer Lew Rywin, who allegedly solicited a $17.5 million bribe from the paper on behalf of the ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) to amend the media rule in the paper's favor. The government appointed a parliamentary commission in February 2003 to look into the scandal, while Rywin's criminal trial for bribery began in December. The concerns about concentration in media ownership that prompted the 2002 law have yet to be addressed. In a July article, Newsweek Polska wrote that media are subject to many forms of political and economic pressure from individuals and groups who may threaten a publication's financial security in retaliation for negative press coverage. The story stated that many publications may avoid sensitive topics for fear of reprisal.