Poland’s state-run broadcasting authority has received several complaints about the way state media covered a massive anti-government protest held over the weekend, according to an official on Tuesday. Warsaw saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets, resulting in one of the biggest demonstrations in decades in Poland. Organizers estimated that around 500,000 people took part in the protest, the numbers of which stretched for kilometers down the city’s streets and could not be independently verified.
State broadcaster TVP downplayed the size and importance of the protest led by opposition leader, Donald Tusk. Unlike independent broadcasters, TVP did not show the march live. It also referred to the peaceful and orderly demonstration as a “march of hate” due to some isolated vulgarities chanted against the government. Comparisons to the communist regime’s use of the same tactics were inevitably drawn.
An official from the National Broadcasting Council, Teresa Brykczynska, said the council had received 12 complaints alleging lack of pluralism, objectivity, violation of media law, and lack of live coverage of the march, and would analyze them.
The protest was held on June 4, which marks a crucial moment in Poland’s history: the partly free election in 1989 that led to the end of communist rule. It was held months before the autumn election, in which the conservative Law and Justice party is fighting for a third term. The party has been using state media, especially TVP, as a mouthpiece for years.
The positive turnout may signal growing opposition to the government as the fall election approaches, and could put Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski in jeopardy, according to political observers.