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Poland’s plans for media reforms to reduce the concentration of ownership in the private sector have sparked widespread controversy.


The country’s ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczyński pledged “a radical reform” of the judiciary during an interview with local media, broadcast in July 2017. Speaking on Catholic television channel Trwam, he said: “Partial reform won’t change anything”.


The far-right, nationalist party, with ties to the country’s clergy, anticipates “strong resistance” amid conflict with the EU, which threatened legal action against Poland on grounds that reform would undermine the independence of judges, and break EU rules. The law would put politicians and justice minister in charge of dismissals of judges.


Commenting on the EU’s response to Poland’s media reform, which includes a warning that it may start an Article 7 censure process, Mr Kaczyński commented: “These are attempts to exert psychological pressure.”


Mr Kaczyński added: “With all certainty we have the issue of reducing concentration in the media. There will also be very strong resistance here.”


Foreign-owned media organisations in Poland include German publisher Axel Springer, Swiss-based Ringier and US firm Scripps Network Interactive. All have a dominant market presence, while Scripps Network Interactive owns Poland’s largest private television network, TVN.


The Commission threatened it may initiate the Article 7 procedure, sometimes described as the EU’s “nuclear option”.

Article 7 has never been used by the EU. It was introduced more than 17 years ago as a measure by which to ensure “that all EU countries respect the common values of the EU.”


It allows the EU to sanction a member state by suspending its voting rights, if all other 27 member states agree. In an annual televised speech, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he would defend Poland.


Mr Orban commented: “The inquisition offensive against Poland can never succeed because Hungary will use all legal options in the European Union to show solidarity with the Poles.”


The government is also working on a separate initiative aimed at increasing revenues from public media subscriptions to ensure stable funding for state television and radio broadcasters.


Among Poland’s plans for public media reform is

a tax to be paid by all citizens, even if they do not own a television or radio and do not use public media services.


In an official statement, Law and Justice President, Jarosław Kaczyński, said: “The bill is ready (...) and we hope that it will allow the Polish TV and radio to receive sufficient funding. They will have to compete on the advertising market, but if they are stronger, their market share should increase.”

TIER 1

Baker McKenzie Krzyzowski i Wspólnicy has a strong position nationally and is regularly praised by competitors. Marek Rosinski manages the Warsaw practice which focusses on copyright and technology. The firm’s multidisciplinary approach brings together a range of sector-related service areas that include commercial law, litigation and unfair competition.


Krzysztof Czyzewski’s leadership drives media activity at Czyżewscy Kancelaria Adwokacka. The boutique firm’s sector coverage is admirable. The practice specialises in book publishing, press, entertainment, film and advertising. Lawyers have extensive experience advising on film productions, television formats, protection of journalistic confidentiality and personal data protection.  


GWW is widely acknowledged to be one of Poland’s leading advisory practices. The firm acts for clients from film and broadcasting sectors and is praised by peers for its work in these fields. Lawyers include Wojciech Krupa, Wacław Knopkiewicz and Michał Sękowski who are among the firm’s media law specialists. The team advises on the film production and trading in television and marketing rights.   


With distinct emphasis on advertising, media and promotional law, Traple Konarski Podrecki & Partners brings together leading industry experts. One client noted: “Xawery Konarski earns a place among Poland's most highly regarded individuals. He frequently advises the Polish government on legal issues involving legislative reform.” Co-founder and media law specialist Elżbieta Traple advises multiple Polish and foreign entities operating in the industry.


TIER 2

The Dentons media group is led by Igor Ostrowski who “has excellent client managing skills“ according to one client while another commented, “I find the performance of Dentons’ office very professional. Memorandums were prepared thoroughly, even if on short notice. The evaluation of time spent on particular works was also satisfactory.” Karol Laskowski is singled out for his advice on intellectual property law. Working with HBO, lawyers advised on its launch of HBO Nordic, a new platform in Scandinavia. The team assisted with licensing and litigation across Poland, Romania, Russia and the UK.  


Domanski Zakrzewski Palinka assist’s clients in dealing with local intricacies impacting multi-national marketing projects involving both ATL and BTL advertising (co-marketing agreements, marketing materials’ clearance, establishing Ts&Cs, regulatory matters, esp. with gambling schemes, loyalty schemes and bonus sale schemes). The firm advises leading publishers on distribution systems, distribution agreements, press registration, protection of intellectual property rights, newspaper formats and disputes over personal rights. The firm’s services are also focussed on the dynamically developing video games market, particularly as regards new business models for on-line games, games of chance, free-to-play, pay per play, and digital content distribution models.


Driven by a focus on sports and intellectual property, Wardyński & Partners is prime choice for sports companies. The practice covers commercial and corporate areas of work on behalf of television and radio broadcasters, operators of digital platforms, advertising agencies and producers of audio-visual recordings. The team includes key practitioners Jan Ciećwierz and Paweł Mazut and is renowned for its primary specialisation in copyright law.


WKB Wierciński, Kwieciński, Baehr lawyers are “extremely knowledgeable, professional and understand  business needs,” said one client who added: “We have had nothing but positive outcomes from them.” The team advises television broadcasters on acquisition deals, spin-offs and divestments. In a highlighted case lawyers advised MediaTel on a transaction which involved divesting a non-core asset managed by one of the company's subsidiaries.


TIER 3

With a primarily focus on telecommunications, Chajec, Don-Siemion & Żyto’s work within the TMT sector also includes ongoing advice to one of Poland’s largest private television stations and satellite television platforms. Led by Andrzej Chajec, the team has wide ranging experience including transactional, advisory and regulatory.


As highlighted by its clients, Linklaters has “very good knowledge of law and the regulatory environment”. Clients also note the firm’s litigation experience and highlight Cezary Wiśniewski for his skill and adeptness. In representative work, the team advised Bonnier Business Polska on all IP aspects of its acquisition of media company Grupa Bankier from the Dutch Naspers Group. The firm regularly handles cross-broader cases involving broadcasting, data protection and technology contracts.


Weil, Gotshal & Manges impresses its clients repeatedly. One client commented: “Weil’s Warsaw

office is based on attorneys who bring unique insight to the complex transactional matters they handle.” The team’s expansive sector coverage is highlighted by another client who noted: “Weil advised us in the area of broadcasting law, trademarks and copyrights matters. Their media and IP practice was engaged in highly sophisticated due diligence projects, connected with IPO, high yield bond offering, M&A and others.” Head of department Pawel Rymarz manages a range of cases including the sale of a controlling stake in one of Poland’s leading television broadcasters.


TIER 4

Tomasz Koryzma leads with TMT/ IP practice group at CMS The firm is known for its advice on user generated content, e-commerce issues and infringement on the internet. Lawyers advise on all aspects of contentious and non-contentious cases.


Led by Ewa Kurowska-Tober, the media division at DLA Piper Water combines commercial and regulatory aspects in cases involving internet law, cloud computing, e-commerce, broadcasting, distribution contracts and licensing agreements. The firm’s global competence and cross-border expertise makes it a relevant component of the legal market and a trusted brand say peers.

 

Jakubowski & Pluta and Partners’ press law focus is matched by its advertising and copyright specialisation. The team works with publishers and radio broadcasters on freedom of expression, publishing corrections and advises on the use of artistic works. The practice is under the leadership of its founders Janusz Jakubowski and Krzysztof Pluta.


TIER 5

Allen & Overy is praised by peers for its IP focus. Key practitioner Magdalena Bartosik is singled out for her expertise with one competitor stating: “Magdalena is experienced IP/ TMT lawyer advising on various aspects connected with media and technology law. She is business oriented and has a good theoretical background”.


With a focus on new technology and intellectual property, FKA Furtek Komosa Aleksandrowicz’s sector-related work is derived from converged areas of media. Lawyers have in-depth knowledge of electronic market regulation and regularly advise on financing and distribution agreements.


The TMT group at Norton Rose Fulbright is formed of experienced lawyers who have a thorough understanding of regulatory and transactional matters. Other core areas of focus include copyright and other intellectual property-related matters.


Stolarek & Grabalski is appointed by television and radio broadcasters in cases involving corporate transactions such as mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures. The firm’s sector involvement is derived from its multidisciplinary approach that brings together various cases connected with media industry investment, start-up ventures and contractual work.

To p

Ranking and editorials

TIER 1

Baker McKenzie Krzyzowski i Wspólnicy

Czyżewscy Kancelaria Adwokacka

GWW

Traple Konarski Podrecki & Partners


TIER 2

Bird & Bird

Dentons

Domanski Zakrzewski Palinka

Wardyński & Partners

WKB Wierciński, Kwieciński, Baehr


TIER 3

Chajec, Don-Siemion & Żyto

Linklaters

LSW Leśnodorski Ślusarek and Partners

SK&S - Sołtysiński Kawecki & Szlęzak

Weil, Gotshal & Manges

Wierzbowski Eversheds Sutherland


TIER 4

APLaw Artur Piechocki

CMS

DLA Piper Wiater  

Greenberg Traurig Grzesiak

Jakubowski Pluta and Partners

Kochański Zięba & Partners

Maruta


TIER 5

Allen & Overy

FKA Furtek Komosa Aleksandrowicz

Hogan Lovells

Norton Rose Fulbright

Stolarek & Grabalski  

Zagajewski & Skowron

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