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Population: 38 million
Internet penetration: 92%
17th June 2024

The October 2023 parliamentary elections brought a change in government in Poland, ending eight years marked by rising political pressure on independent media and the politicisation of public service broadcasting under the Law and Justice (PiS) party. This shift has left a deeply polarised media landscape and a need for significant reform.

On 20 December 2023, millions of Poles sat down in front of their televisions to watch the main news broadcast on public television. However, instead of the traditional opening sequence, a screen appeared with the words ‘End of transmission’. In a dramatic move, the new government fired TVP executives and took its flagship news channel off air, citing a lack of impartiality. This unprecedented step sparked criticism from the former ruling party, who called for the defence of public media. The following day, a newly hired newsroom launched the ‘19:30’ evening bulletin.

The boards of Polish Radio and the Polish Press Agency were also sacked. However, the legal basis for this transfer of power was shaky. The government dissolved the existing boards and created new ones with fresh leadership, arguing the previous administration used public media as a ‘propaganda arm’.1 Dismissed journalists returned as managers, and a recruitment drive brought a surge of new personnel. Human rights organisations criticised the way the changes were handled.2 This turmoil also benefited the former niche channel, TV Republika. It capitalised on the situation by recruiting sacked pro-PiS presenters from TVP and now enjoys a 10% weekly reach amongst our respondents.

The new government aims to depoliticise the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiTV), currently dominated by former PiS representatives. However, KRRiTV has responded by hardening its stance, imposing a 550,000 złoty (€127,477) fine on TVN, the largest commercial broadcaster, for airing a film about sexual abuse in the church. The National Media Council (RMN), also dominated by PiS, exacerbated the situation by appointing a new TVP CEO after the government's dismissal of the board.

Other political strongholds are Orlen Press, the largest group of regional daily newspapers in Poland, and Ruch, the second-largest newspaper distributor. Both are currently owned by the state-owned oil company Orlen. Following a change in management, the oil giant has begun exploring options to divest its media arm. This move reflects the challenges of adapting to a rapidly digitising market. Orlen Press closed local weeklies in 2023, and its news portal,, failed to compete with other general portals like Onet and Wirtualna Polska.

Meanwhile, major private players are focusing on digital strategies. Onet, owned by Ringier Axel Springer Polska, made another attempt to revitalise its subscription offer and introduced the ‘Onet Premium’ package, while Wirtualna Polska acquired Audioteka, a leading audiobook provider, for €13.8m.

The declining circulation of printed newspapers has also forced independent publishers to make difficult decisions. The publisher of the influential independent weekly Polityka closed the magazine Forum, which had been published for 58 years and reprinted articles from foreign newspapers. Gazeta Wyborcza, one of the leaders in digital subscriptions in Europe, laid off 180 people in the first quarter of 2024. However, its owner, Agora Group, completed the acquisition of the controlling stake in Radio Zet, the second-largest commercial radio broadcaster, for about €9.17m. The acquisition has been blocked since 2021 on the grounds of competition concerns which were generally seen as politically motivated.

The television market saw a declining audience for major broadcasters, paving the way for streaming services to gain further traction. New players like SkyShowtime (a Comcast and Paramount Global joint venture) entered the market, while established players like Wirtualna Polska, TVN, and Rakuten launched new FAST (free ad-supported streaming television) channels. Interestingly, unlike Western markets struggling to finance new TV productions, Polish services continued to increase spending on original content.

Further contributing to the dynamic rise of digital video was the launch of Kanał Zero on YouTube by former sports journalist Krzysztof Stanowski. The channel quickly gained traction, attracting not only prominent journalists and experts but also high-profile guests typically featured on major news outlets. Notably, its launch on 1 February 2024 featured an interview with the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda. By March 2024, Kanał Zero had amassed an impressive subscriber base of 970,000, outpacing an unexpected competitor – the lower house of the Polish Parliament, the Sejm.3 The Sejm's official YouTube channel, nicknamed Sejmflix, saw a surge in subscribers, reaching 650,000 in just a few weeks. This is five times more than the subscriber base of Germany's Bundestag channel.

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 continue to decline, with print at 10% just a third of its use in 2016. Social media use for news is also down, with significant declines in Facebook use for news (-6pp).

Pay for online news



Trust in news overall



Public trust in news media is down 17 percentage points since 2015. RMF FM remains amongst the most trusted of brands surveyed, along with Radio Zet. Notably, the Polsat News channel has seen an increase in trust scores, while appeared in the ranking for the first time. The turmoil at TVP News has not helped improve its very low trust ratings.

RSF World Press Freedom Index


Score 69.17

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

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