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Bill targeting US company vetoed by Polish president

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Polish President Andrzej Duda on Monday vetoed a bill that would have required Discovery, a U.S. media company, to forgo its controlling share of a Polish television network.

“Contracts have to be kept,” Duda said when he announced his decision, according to The Associated Press. “For us Poles it is a matter of honor.”

Duda added that the legislation would have violated a U.S.-Polish treaty signed in the 1990s and could have cost Poland billions of dollars, the AP noted.

The U.S. company’s stake in the privately owned Polish network, TVN, is the largest American investment in Poland, where the nationalist government has challenged certain democratic norms.

Discovery had previously threatened to sue Poland over the investment, which was first purchased for $2 billion by Scripps Networks Interactive, another U.S. company, the wire service noted.

The bill, which Poland’s lower house of parliament passed, would have prohibited any non-European entity from owning 50 percent or more of a stake in Polish television or radio broadcasters.

The Law and Justice Party had argued in favor of the policy, saying that entities outside of Poland should not have so much power in molding public opinion, the AP added.

“European countries protect their media market against excess foreign capital, considering this area strategic for security and national security,” party spokeswoman Anita Czerwinska said, adding that the decision could lead to “submission to other states [and] their interests,” according to the AP.

But Duda’s decision, which was unpopular among many Poles but expected to be supported in the U.S., was considered a victory for freedom of speech and media independence, the AP reported.  

Tags Andrzej Duda Discovery Networks media companies Poland

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