This is a fact that very often a press or other media belong to the local authorities and are financed from a public budget. The authorities claim that this is only to inform citizens and find better ways of reaching the public with the important messages. However there are several reasons explaining why it makes more harm than good.
First of all this is unequal competition. The business model for any media is usually that they sell advertisements. On the local level, the main providers of the advertisement is local administration and business that also provides services for that administration so prefers to stay with good relations. Local market is limited and in smaller communities everybody is somehow related to each other. If there is a free press/media and the “press”/”media” belonging to the administration, the private one has a lot of difficulties with survival.
Second, the independent press has to use the official way of getting information, while the one that is part of the administration, can use any means of getting information. So it can also be more efficient.
Those two reasons would not be a problem if there was a guarantee that the “public” media present different point of views. However this is not usually the case. Sooner or later the independent media are closed. This is not such a rare case and Poland faces the problem of that democratic failure.
The Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups joined a case of the local resident who asked the editor of the local title in Nowa Sól for the content (on CD) of a discussion forum opened at the on-line version of Tygodnik Krąg. The forum was closed in 2009. When it was active local residents very often criticized decisions and activities of the administration. That was a public medium and the Mayor of a town was the person who should provide information. He refused.
The applicant submitted a complained to the regional administrative court in Gorzów Wielkopolski. The court refused accepting that content of the forum of the medium financed from public money is a public information. The complainants went to the Supreme Administrative Court. The case will be ruled on July 12th, 2011.
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