People having Basic roles on the initial modification of post-communist media were registered in police records as secret cooperators and operational contacts

At the end of the years 2016 the Polish Television broadcast a three-sequent documentary series directed by Paweł Nowacki and Krzysztof Nowak entitled: ‘Media of the Third Polish Republic’, realized 7 years ago. It is devoted to changes which have taken place in Polish media after the year 1989 since that time. This strong publicist film of a very important aspect of our modern history deserves particular attention for the reason that in the conditions of the political freedom of speech and lack of official censorship in Poland, he was the so-called colonel for even 7 years. However it had nothing in common with regiment. It was a whimsical way of calling films during the times of Polish People’s Republic, stopped bycensorship and kept on warehouse shelves. It had taken a long time until they permitted to be broadcast.

A threat to the authority’s interests

What was so disloyal to hear and see in 3 sequences of this series lasting about half an hour each, that he was sentenced to such a long seclusion? It could seem that it is nothing extraordinary to state that state and private media in Poland after the failure of communism did not reveal but also co-created a defective political transformation, connected with enfranchisement of the former communist nomenclature and protection of its interests. But revealing mechanisms, according to which it had taken place and removing hypocritical appearances which had obscured that process, in this case, turned out too drastic for a lot of managers of the TVP. It was also very inconvenient for beneficiaries of this transformation. The revealing on TV screen connected with this process of the sad truth about the rationed freedom of speech in the Third Polish Republic, too restricted media pluralism and domination of one leftist and artificially enforced ideological option, was a serious threat to strictly guarded interests of the authority and its aliquots. After the film was broadcast late by 7 years, it turned out again that the loudest defenders of freedom of speech were adamant controllers of it for years. And they were trying to restrict it according to their own political interests.

The basic merits of the serial which unmasks this mystification are a lively course of polemic disputes and accuracy of argumentation of a good group of publicists participating in this venture: Piotr Legutko, Piotr Zaremba, Bronisław Wildstein, Piotr Semka, Paweł Milcarek, Rafał Ziemkiewicz. Particular activity was distinguishing for Cezary Michalski, who was facing his surprising change in thinking towards…’Political Criticism’.

In this serial publicists are assisted by excellent historians: Piotr Gontarczyk, Antoni Dudek and Andrzej Nowak.

Ideology was to be the same

In the first episode we can see a terrible media realty of the omnipresent censorship, -falsifying reality and brainwashing in the so-called People’s Poland. It can be mentioned that all managerial posts in the national press, radio and television were reserved only for tried out comrades from the Polish United Labour Party. We also get to know a sad truth that people having basic roles in the initial modification of post-communist media were registered in the acts of the secret police as secret collaborators and operational contacts. It had an influence on their personal and programming decisions. In this way, and also, among the others, through enfranchisement of former editorial groups cleansed from ‘a kind of journalistic element’ already during the martial law, domination of only right worldview and political option was enrooted in Polish media after the year 1989. To a large post-communist degree, but the modified to some extent and supported by the post-solidarity Democratic Union, and then by the Freedom Union. As a result, the property status of media has changed, but their ideological direction was not able to divert from it. Especially to the right from the amplitude fork assigned by political holders of mass media.

The important role in this document is also played by very interesting and often forgotten archives of the recent date. Some of them are drastic, like the ones showing paying off propaganda easements by the past Studio 2 of Mariusz Walter or quite confidential reports by Monika Olejnik and Adam Michnik with Jerzy Urban outside the headquarter of the Radio 3 on the 10th anniversary of beginning the martial law.

Attempts of changing the situation

In the second episode we are reminded of an attempt of breaking that state of things on public television during the presidency of Wiesław Walendziak, lasting only for 2 years. This episode is completed by a short story of attempts, doomed to misfortune in the very beginning, in creating stations independent on TV broadcasters, such as, the Franciscians’ Television Niepokalanów or Family Television. Here there is also a reminder that despite the long-time making the Church and Catholics disgust not only in the scurrilous weekly ‘No’, we had an unexpected success of the bottom-up social initiative which led to creating Radio Maryja. What is interesting in this documentary episode is the backstage of granting concession to Polsat and TVN TV stations, reminding what their political pedigree and what beginnings of their nationwide expansion were.

In the third episode of the serial produced by Robert Kaczmarek there returns an issue, raised in 1997 by the independent newspaper ‘Life’ and covered by media friendly to communists, concerning holiday of Aleksander Kwaśniewski with a Russian agent of KGB Władimir Ałganow, whereas in the reminiscences of later years – the issue of the generally censored and falsified miserable disgrace of the former president in national media, concerning the graves of the victims of NKWD during his visit in Charkow. Those events are mentioned in the context of liquidation, mainly because of the lack of advertisements in them, independent local newspapers, such as ‘Cracovian Time’ or ‘Gdańsk Newspaper’, which, despite of all restrictions and difficulties, informed about various facts inconvenient for the authorities.

In this episode there is also an opportunity to refresh knowledge about reasons and results of the scandal of Rywin, which made the media system of the Third Republic of Poland uncertain. Despite that, it remained permanent for many years. Barbara Fedyszak-Radziejowska, commenting on this scandal, says that this message which the society received in her result was like this: ‘Unprofessional intermediaries (like Rywin…) are usually punished, whereas politicians remain intact’.

At present, paying attention to this unusual serial is justified not only with a possibility of a mediatory, that is, getting to know it outside the TVP by those who did not see it during the premiere broadcasts, but also with hope that they will be able to watch it in the Polish Television when other episodes are repeated, and which should appear in regard to the social significance of this documentary.


„Niedziela” 23/2017

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: