2014 Election campaigns: European Parliament and local government bodies
The National Broadcasting Council is obligated, on the basis of delegated legislation, to determine specific rules for conducting election campaigns in electronic media. The legal regulations regarding this year's two election campaigns are to be found in three regulations by the National Broadcasting Council. Taking into account the possible need for an update, a review has been carried out of the regulations laying down detailed rules for election campaigns to the European Parliament.
A list of all the executive legal acts of the National Broadcasting Council may be found online. (legal acts)
In the period beginning 15 days before the elections and lasting until the end of the election campaign, election committees shall have the right to distribute election broadcasts free of charge in the programmes of public radio and television broadcasters, at the broadcasters’ cost.
The provisions concerning the obligation of Telewizja Polska to conduct a debate in the European Parliament elections between representatives of those election committees which have registered their lists of candidates in all districts have not undergone any changes. Therefore, the KRRiT regulation of 6 July 2011 on the detailed rules and procedures for conducting debates by Telewizja Polska Spółka Akcyjna does not need to be amended. (Journal of Laws No. 146 item 878)
The provisions referring to communications by the National Electoral Commission and election commissioners have also not been changed. In relation to the above,
no changes are required to the KRRiT regulation of 12 July 2011 on procedure in the matter of the free presentation in public radio and television broadcasters’ programmes of information, clarifications and communications by the National Electoral Commission as well as by election commissioners related to ordered elections as well the as applicable laws (Journal of Laws No. 154, item 916).
Regarding the motion by the Telewizja Polska Board of Directors in the matter of shifting the responsibility for free distribution of election broadcasts from national channels onto a special TVP INFO public information channel with national coverage, the National Broadcasting Council has analyzed the regulation of 12 July 2011 on the time and time-allocation outline intended for the distribution of free election broadcasts, the procedure regarding time allocation, the area of registration as well as the means of preparation and broadcasting of election broadcasts on public radio and television channels (Journal of Laws No. 154, item 915, as amended)
The National Broadcasting Council has decided to initiate legislative procedure and submit the planned change to a public consultation, in accordance with established procedure concerning matters in the area of regulatory policy (Public consultation on the KRRiT regulation of 12 July 2011)
In accordance with Art. 49 para 1 of the aforementioned regulations on the need to distribute election broadcasts, broadcast ranges for 16 regional Telewizja Polska channels as well as 17 regional channels for public radio and television companies have been established. If it is found that the ranges indicated in the appendices to the regulation in question are out of date, the appendices shall be changed.
Currently, the Sejm is working on changes to the Election Code. The Private Members’ Bill on changes to the Election Code as well as some other laws was sent to the Special Sub-Commission after the first reading at the meeting of the Sejm on 23 October 2013 (Sejm Paper No. 1786) The bill provides for the possibility of free distribution in the form of election broadcasts on public radio and television channels as well as on private broadcasters’ channels. Broadcasters will be required to distribute broadcasts under the same conditions for all election committees. The regulations in the Broadcasting Act concerning audiovisual commercial messages (advertising activity) will apply to campaign advertisements.
The Chairman of the National Broadcasting Council has introduced to the Chairman of the Special Sub-Committee, among others, a proposal to introduce a provision prohibiting the presentation of other candidates in election broadcasts in a disparaging manner, and thus according to a linguistic interpretation in a compromising manner, damaging the reputation of and undermining the credibility and authority of someone in the eyes of others.
The acceptance of such a solution, which exists for example in French legislation, reflects the idea that election campaigns in the media should be conducted without ridiculing political rivals.
Additional changes to the Election Code, on which the Special Commission is working include the Private Members’ Bill on changes to the Election Code (Sejm Paper No. 2019), which provides for the expansion of the ban on publishing or distributing to the public in any other way any results of pre-election research, public opinion polls concerning anticipated election behaviour or election results or the results of election surveys conducted on polling day for the period of 7 days before the day of the elections until the moment voting is closed. The currently-applicable regulation forbids disclosure of the aforementioned results to the public starting 24 hours before polling day until voting is closed.
Monitoring and co-operation with community organisations
The National Broadcasting Council plans to conduct monitoring of both of this year’s election campaigns.
Selected news and publicity broadcasts in the programmes of both licensed television broadcasters and the public service broadcaster TVP SA will be monitored. Monitoring of selected cable television channels is also planned. Free election broadcasts (to be distributed by public service broadcasters on a mandatory basis) as well as other broadcasters' obligations during the campaign will be monitored in a mode related to investigation of so-called electoral complaints.
Post-broadcast materials will also form the grounds for examining the presence and role of women in election communications, which is in accordance with the postulates found in the European Commission strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015, and also with the suggestions received by the National Broadcasting Council from interested communities.
The National Broadcasting Council will also prepare information on expenditures and use of air time in radio and television for paid broadcasts of campaign advertisements ordered by the election committees during the two election campaigns.
Taking previous election campaigns as an example, the National Broadcasting Council has enlisted the cooperation of community organisations whose particular goal is the holding of informative and highly-attended election campaigns. For the first time, the National Broadcasting Council has received a proposal for co-operation with organisational structures from the European Parliament in Poland.
The National Broadcasting Council will provide up-to-date information on its website on actions taken in relation to the local government elections planned for autumn of this year.