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Population: 38 million
Internet penetration: 92%
14th June 2023

Frightening headlines about Ukraine and the worsening economic climate have led Poles to avoid news and instead turn to entertainment. Combined with the post-pandemic headwinds and government pressure, this has deepened the long-standing crisis in independent news outlets.

The initial spike in news consumption caused by the war in Ukraine waned, and newsrooms had to face the harsh reality. Print media suffered as costs of paper skyrocketed and advertisers cut spending. Publishers responded by raising cover prices, laying off staff, and closing titles. Ringier Axel Springer Poland, Agora, Burda Media Poland, and Bauer all laid off hundreds of employees. Many publications were discontinued or shrunk, with Burda closing down 20 magazines, and Axel Springer terminating the print version of Auto Świat magazine and reducing the number of editions of the sports daily Przegląd Sporotwy to two a week.

Television, which is usually less vulnerable to the cyclical changes of the advertising market, had to face another problem. Big broadcasters saw their audience shrinking, faced with competition from all the major streaming players in Poland. In 2022, for the second year in a row, no show crossed the 5 million viewer threshold, compared with 2020, when there were six such shows, and 32 shows in 2019.

As people gravitated towards entertainment, France’s Canal+ bought a 70% stake in SPI International, the owner of several TV channels and the new streaming platform Dizi.1 Smaller legacy outlets had to shut down their business. Motor-Presse Polska, the publisher of magazines such as Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World, filed for bankruptcy.

However, even small-scale media sympathetic to the government could count on steady streams of cash from state enterprises. Almost half of the 128 million zloty (€27.5m) spent in magazines in 2021 went to government-friendly opinion weeklies, while total ad spending by government ministries and agencies increased by 40% compared with 2020. PSB TVP had no reason to complain as parliament increased the annual grant for public service broadcasting from 2 billion (€425m) to 2.7 billion zloty (€576.6m).

TVP is widely criticised for its skewed, pro-government news coverage, with its trust scores amongst the lowest in our survey. In December, Poland’s largest opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform (PO), submitted a bill that would abolish the public broadcaster news channel, TVP Info, which PO says has become a ‘propaganda’ outlet for the national-conservative ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.2

The government supported TVP by effectively undercutting its competitors’ reach and creating uncertainties around their business. The Electronic Communications Office (UKE) used the switchover to the new digital terrestrial television standard (DVB-T2) – which required some consumers to replace their TV sets or buy new set-top boxes – as an opportunity. Private TV stations had to switch to DVB-T2 in 2022, while TVP was allowed to stick to the old standard (DVB-T) until the end of 2023.3 Meanwhile, the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) increased pressure on the largest commercial television station, TVN – which ranks top in weekly reach – owned by Warner Bros Discovery, by calling for the company's ownership structure to be investigated by an international auditor when applying for a licence renewal for one of its channels, which expires in June 2023.

Another tool for exerting pressure on independent media has been the state-owned oil company Orlen, the owner of Orlen Press, the largest group of regional dailies in Poland – employing 800 journalists - and Ruch, the second largest newspaper distributor. Daniel Obajtek, the controversial chairman of Orlen, has attracted criticism for his decision to remove the issue of the weekly magazine Nie featuring an image of Pope John Paul II on its cover from Orlen and Ruch sales points. The cover, which he regarded as blasphemous, was prompted by a documentary focusing on Pope John Paul II's alleged knowledge of paedophilia and sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Poland. Obajtek's decision has been seen as further evidence of him acting as an instrument of the ruling party.

The only major launch for the Polish media market last year was – a news portal launched by Orlen Press with a staff of 44 journalists. The new outlet reached its target of 5 million unique users. However, a year after the takeover of the publishing business now known as Orlen Press, the state oil giant had to write down 33 million zlotys (€7m) from its 100% stake.

Vadim Makarenko
Director of Research Digital, Statista GmbH; former journalist, Gazeta Wyborcza and former Reuters Institute Journalist Fellow

Changing media

Use of all sources of news is down and this is reflected in declining reach for major news websites. Among the top ten online news brands, only the PSB ( saw an increase in reach of 2pp.

Pay for online news



Trust in news overall


(=) 17/46

Trust in news I use


Trust in news in general (42%) has remained stable, though some brands such as Onet and Polsat News have experienced strong gains of 7pp. Traditionally, independent media tend to have higher trust ratings than state-controlled public broadcaster TVP, which holds the lowest trust ratings: 47% distrust it and only 28% trust it.

RSF World Press Freedom Index


Score 67.66

Measure of press freedom from NGO Reporters Without Borders based on expert assessment. More at

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