Students Are Standing Up

A lost generation? Are today’s 20-year-olds all without a backbone? Journalist Patrik Baab disagrees. Students supported him in his legal dispute with Kiel’s Christian-Albrechts University. This did not go down well: an open letter was not allowed to be sent via the university distribution list. But the students didn’t give up up. A positive experience. The CAU had terminated Baab’s teaching contract because of his research in the Donbass. On April 25, the Schleswig-Holstein Administrative Court ruled that the termination was illegal. The ruling is not yet legally binding.

Nimble hands dipped brushes into pots of paint. On a banner, lying on the ground, they wrote out red letters. Faces could not be seen. But the slogan was soon visible: “Solidarity with Patrik Baab.” A few more hands hung the banner on the bicycle bridge over Olshausenstrasse at Kiel University. After the night-and-fog action, it remained there for days. In mid-February, students took their protest against censorship and restrictions on freedom of the press to the streets—and to the Internet: a video of the action went viral. The reason: After research in the Donbass and a press campaign, my teaching assignment for practical journalism was cancelled. As an eledged election observer, I would have legitimized Putin’s “sham referendums” and thus the “Russian war of aggression.” No one bothered to check if this was actually true or not. It was just more jumping on the bandwagon—for clicks and advertising revenue. The fact that the majority of people in the Donbass actually think of being pro-Russian does not fit in with the West’s propaganda.

(See, “The Donbas Rift,” by Serhiy Kudelia, and Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands, pp. 156ff).

On Good Friday 2023, my friend Friedhelm, his daughter Luise and I wanted to have a nightcap in the Kiel pub, Palenke, around 10:30 PM. The waiter came up to me: “Mr. Baab, you are a conspiracy theorist. You won’t get any beer here. Leave the pub immediately!”

Appalled, we left. Luise commented, “This is how I imagine 1933!” Reason enough to wash down our horror elsewhere. Conspiracy theorist; lateral thinker; Covid denier; right-wing extremist; Putin legitimizer; anti-Semite: These are the denunciation labels of the ecolibertarian and national reactionary bourgeoisie. They serve to enforce propaganda, to exclude dissidence, to divide the population, to destroy the existence of the target, to force anticipatory obedience by generating fear. Behind it all is one goal—to secure the rule of the power elites. But these campaigns are orchestrated by their academic and journalistic satraps. The waiter at the Palenke is named Moritz, studies at Kiel University and works at the campus radio station.

It is precisely against this “Cancel Culture” that students at CAU are now standing up. They are not alone: At Prof. Ulrike Guérot’s “conciliation hearing” before the labor court on April 28, about 100 students demonstrated against her dismissal by the University of Bonn; Prof. Michael Meyen, who is being dragged through the mud by the Süddeutsche Zeitung in particular, also finds support among many students and staff at the University of Munich. It is still a minority that is fighting against the anti-democratic rallying movement of media like T-Online, universities and state-supported denunciation platforms like Zentrum Liberale Moderne, Amadeu Antonio Stiftung or the Mobile Counselling Team against Right-Wing Extremism in Hamburg. But every day there are more of them. Because they know: These witch hunts are not about arguments, but about power. It is about using anti-democratic means to enforce the dominance of discourse. At Kiel University, too, the democratic culture of debate has collapsed—an alarm signal for universities, had it not been for the fact that the lecture halls have long since been colonized by a morally armored extremism of the ecolibertarian center.

But soon the witch hunters could become the hunted. Because now there is the working group “Dialogue on Fundamental Rights and Health Protection” at CAU. Founded in February 2022, it officially has ten active members. One of them is Julian Hett: “Unofficially, we are a lot more, because graduates remain loyal to the group. The community is much larger, maybe a hundred young people in Kiel alone. Our first topic was Corona – and what state organs took out during that time. The Covid measures at Kiel University were also completely disproportionate.” It didn’t stop at Covid. The Covid measures were only one step in the continuing attempt to impose authoritarian structures. Kiel University is part of an unfortunate tradition: Hooray-patriotism in lecture halls in 1914; academic Freikorps during the Kapp-Lüttwitz Putsch in 1920; “Sturm-Uni” of the Nazis from 1933; secret service involvement of professors during the Cold War and afterwards.

(“Sturm-Uni,” or “Sturm-Universität,” literally a “Stormtrooper university,” is a term from the Nazi-era, which simply means a university entirely aligned with, commited to and thus promoting state ideology—Ed.).

The students of the Arbeitskreis Grundrechteschutz (Working Group for the Protection of Fundamental Rights) know this, and they know what it’s all about. That is why they are organizing a solidarity event for me. On April 11, my lawyer Dr. Volker Arndt and I spoke in front of more than 100 people. In the home of the Kronshagen sports club, there was enthusiastic applause and more than three hours of critical debate about media, propaganda and the Ukraine war. Reason-led discussion against cancel culture and irrationalism, entirely in the spirit of the Enlightenment, as Immanuel Kant wished: “The critical path alone is still open.” For this, the Working Group booked a room, distributed flyers, put stickers on lamp-posts, and uploaded a recording on the web. Anyone who has ever done something like this knows that all this is no small feat.

Student protest. Kiel University.

The commitment of the Kiel students reminds me of my own beginnings—in the alternative newspaper movement at the end of the 1970s. With the founding of the Provinzblatt Homburg (Homburg is a small city in the southwest of Germany) , we wanted to take a stand against the machinations of the local construction lords and the one-sided reporting of the monopolist Saarbrücker Zeitung. The success remained modest—but nevertheless a circulation of 800 copies. At the meeting of alternative newspapers in Freiburg im Breisgau in 1977, those who later promoted the founding of the Taz (Die Tageszeitung) came together. They met again at the peace demonstration in Bonn’s Hofgarten in 1981. Six years later, they were joined by participants in the Olof Palme Peace March in the GDR. The central demand: a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe and a press oriented toward the interests of the people—demands that are still highly topical today.

The Provinzblatt Homburg has long since ceased to exist. But back then we were able to learn to stand when the wind was blowing against us. I have remained true to my ideas from back then: The power elites must face criticism; research is an oppositional concept. I offered a seminar on this at the CAU; something obviously stuck with some of the participants. The Taz is quite different: The paper has degenerated into a mouthpiece for the ecoliberal elites. Thus, Esther Geisslinger also joined in the campaign against me and called me a “Putin propagandist.” For more than 20 years I have been critically examining Putin’s Russia. These films are online. But Ms. Geisslinger apparently can’t even manage to use a search engine or listen in a courtroom. My lawyer forced the Taz to publish a counterstatement. The lying press—the students in Kiel are also mobilizing against this.

Journalist Thomas Moser did a reality check and wrote: “The treatment of NDR reporter Patrik Baab by universities and the media shows how deeply divided Germany is and how ruthless it is when militarized nationalism spreads.” Like the students from the Working Group, he speaks of an attack on the freedom of the press. He says, “This is a culture war. It has to be fought out now. It’s about preserving democracy. That’s why we need a new 1968, a new extra-parliamentary opposition.” But the mood among fellow students is divided. In Kiel, the campus radio and the student newspaper, Der Albrecht, are more on the identity politics trip. There, the right attitude apparently counts more than a researched reality check. Sociologist Oskar Negt had this to say about such attitudes: “Opportunism is the real mental disease of intellectuals.” A disease that is also widespread at Kiel University.

“A whole generation is missing,” I hear the peace movements of yesteryear, those who have long since turned gray, lament. But who educated this generation to conform? Who pushed through the Abitur after eight years? Who pushed for the restructuring of university courses? Who purged the content of critical questions and introduced multiple-choice exams in social studies? It was us—today’s 60-year-olds. Gustav Heinemann, the third German president, once said: “Those who point at others with their index finger are pointing at themselves with three fingers of their hand.” But is an entire generation really missing?

No. The oral court proceedings show the opposite. In front of the Administrative Court in Schleswig on April 25, flags and banners: “Free journalism deserves support.” A signpost at the CAU in Kiel—”Pluralism of opinion”—deleted. Twenty-five supporters in the hall, half students of Kiel University. “We rarely have that at the administrative court,” says the chairman of the chamber, Dr. Malte Sievers, “but here fundamental rights are also weighed against each other.” Meanwhile, in an editorial office I know, the internal word is, “We ignore that!” The entire misery of the self-proclaimed quality media is bundled in these three words. The press, which had already disgraced itself in tendentiously covering the demonstration by Sarah Wagenknecht, of the party “Die Linke,” and the publicist of the feminist magazine, Emma, Alice Schwarzer, for peace talks to stop the war in Ukraine, on February 25 in Berlin, continues to disgrace itself. The students from the Working Group are therefore also concerned with counter-publicity—against the manipulative of the established public spheres. This is reminiscent of the “Stop Springer” campaign in 1968 (a campaign against the Murdoch-like German media tycoon Axel Cäsar Springer and his press empire).. So, a touch of APO after all?

For that to happen, the few would first have to become the many. The ground is prepared for this: The sanctions against Russia and the accompanying inflation are impoverishing large parts of the population. Gradually, even many younger people are realizing that Germany could be drawn into a war in which there is much to lose but nothing to gain. The propaganda of the bellicose elites becomes all the more vehement. It is a “drastic reminder,” says Noam Chomsky, “that the arena of rational discourse collapses precisely where there should be hope that it will be defended.” That is, in academic circles.

Whether Kiel University has the strength to put its reputation as a “storm-trooper university” behind it this time—I have not yet formed a final judgment on that. But it is a signal that the students are taking the protest to the streets. Because—as in 1976 when the so-called anti-terror laws were introduced—it is about defending the republic—against an academic-media-political complex that wants to drive the country into a post-democratic elite-rule and new wars. The weapons of counter-Enlightenment are far from being blunted—not even at universities. That is why the Working Group for the Protection of Fundamental Rights is planning further actions. The fight goes on. For me, the support of “my” students is important. Thank you for that!

Political Media: Guard-Dogs of Individual Liberty or Totalitarian Lapdogs?

A common presumption held by many Western elites today who tend to control today’s major communications media, is that they constitute some sort of global world political order, an Enlightened World Scientific State.

My chief concern here is to consider the political rights and moral responsibilities of modern communications media. By “political rights” I mean extent of “circumstantial freedoms,” of freedom to exercise speech unfettered by political interference. Since political freedom consists in exercise of human actions toward others, and since the moral virtue of justice is the measure of the limits of right and wrong action toward others, by “moral responsibilities” I mean the limits placed upon unfettered communications-media free speech that justice demands in any and every political order.

Three Senses of “Freedom”

To answer this question with some precision, we have to understand the nature of human freedom in general, how circumstantial freedom differs from human freedom considered generically, the nature of political association, and the function that government essentially plays within political organizations.

Like we do in most cases of speech in any native language, when we use the term “freedom,” we generally do so by referring this term analogously: chiefly to some cause existing within a subject that generates the activity in question, and secondarily to anything else that, in some essentially useful way, relates to this cause. For example, when we use the term “health” analogously, this is generally understood to refer to some quality existing within a living body that results from some internal harmony of organic relations occurring within the body. Nonetheless, in an extended way, we also refer the term “health” to medicine, exercise, diet, and even books because they help to promote, preserve, and protect it.

The same is true regarding the term “freedom.” When we talk about it, what most adult human beings tend chiefly to be talking about is a cause internal to a human being that generates some individual independence from outside interference in executing free choice.

In this sense, in its most perfect instance, freedom is a cause that exists within individual human beings that the great French author Yves R. Simon has called “an active indifference caused by masterful choice.” This definition chiefly refers to “moral freedom,” a kind of freedom possessed as a quality of soul belonging to a person who tends to understand the natures of things, the organizational constitution, relations of parts that exist in things, which exist around a person and to which a person knows how to relate in healthy ways.

This moral sense of “freedom” differs from another positive sense of “freedom,” which refers chiefly to the natural ability to make choices. While such freedom is a reality, it is freedom in a deprived sense, just as health as a natural condition found in most people is not the strongly possessed health of a person who follows a strict regimen of nutritious diet and rigorous exercise.

Both these senses of “freedom” differ from a third sense, which refers simply to not being restrained to act by some external agent or agency. In all human generations, this sense appears to be the way most youth and emotionally infantile people tend to understand freedom. Yet this is freedom in its most deprived and negative sense. Considered in and of itself, freedom to act amounts to nothing if a person is externally unrestrained from acting but has no internal abilities to act, no internal qualities (talents) that cause human actions to be strong, healthy, masterful, great.

Not being externally restrained from acting is not the chief cause of human action being free. Internal qualities of excellence, greatness, are its chief causes. These qualities are principally the classical moral and intellectual virtues recognized by healthy cultures, societies, cultures, and States within any and every age.

Nonetheless, since no human being can perfect natural abilities without freedom of exercise, without some limit of unfettered ability to execute external actions (without some limit of circumstantial freedom), and because, by nature, all human beings have a moral responsibility and duty, to pursue human happiness, all human beings have a natural right and moral duty to pursue just limits of circumstantial freedom in different forms of social life.

I say that all human beings have a moral responsibility, a moral duty, to pursue human happiness because the natural inclination to pursue our happiness, to exercise human acts and bring them to mature, healthy development is a necessary condition for exercising moral liberty, human freedom in its highest form. Moral rights and responsibilities are properties of human liberty relative to the highest pursuit of natural human goods—the greatest of which is human happiness.

Liberty, Political Associations, and “the State”

Individual liberty is only desired because it is an essential enabling means for exercising human action, for living a good human life in as perfect a fashion as possible. This moral duty to pursue human happiness through exercise of individual human freedom is the source of all moral rights, including the natural human right to form political associations and to establish communications media to insure that governmental agencies do not overstep their limits of just authority as agents of the State, of political self-governance.

Understanding the rights and duties of communications media is impossible in any age without a precise understanding of the nature of political associations, especially today that of States and nation-States. One reason for this is because, since media are parts of organizations, understanding the rightful limits of media activity essentially depends upon knowing the kind of wholes, organizations, of which these media are a part.

Many people today, especially utopian socialists and politicians of many different persuasions, make the mistake of misunderstanding the nature of the political organization to which political media (print and other news organizations) essentially belong. They tend to do this by identifying a State with a government. In doing so, knowingly or not, such people often unwittingly fall into the trap of adopting the political mindset of a totalitarian, or despot.

No government is a State. Governments are agents of a self-governing people, just as are real estate agents, stock brokers, and educational administrators. Politicians are agents through which human beings constituting a self-governing political organization called a “State” engage in associational self-governance.

A tendency on the part of administrators within any and every agency, however, often arises (especially within large, centralized, bureaucracies) for administrators to think they constitute the whole organization. Instead of realizing that they constitute a topmost part of an organizational whole, they often tend to get the grandiose idea that they are the whole, that they do not represent a rule of law (command and control) imposed by others, but that they are the rule of law. The existence of free communications media within political associations is crucial to prevent this sort of misunderstanding from occurring, of shaping heathy public opinion so as to maintain public awareness of politically relevant social interactions of benefit or harm to a political body.

In the past, before the advent of new, internet communications, this moral responsibility fell largely on the shoulders of a free press and television news media. In the present age of electronic media, this situation is changing dramatically; other forms of social media networks are growing that are starting to compete with, and even beginning to replace, traditional print media and television news organizations.

The only way to distribute power is to divide it. In every case this involves preventing monopolization of power in the hands of one, or a few, people. Within democratic political organizations a free media is essential for decentralizing governmental administration, for helping, through relatively unfettered governmental interference, constantly to help distribute leadership roles to parts of a political organization with the talents, qualifications, to execute those roles.

Hence, all legitimate, democratic, political media (not propaganda organizations: presently often called “fake news” outlets) have a natural right to a just amount of circumstantial freedom as is necessary to conduct their work of conveying political truth to help shape the informed public opinion needed to engage in cooperative self-rule through representative government. The just limits of such freedom are constituted by no less circumstantial freedom as is necessary to exercise this political duty and no more than is compatible with the just exercise of circumstantial freedom of other essential political institutions that foster individual self-governance.

To be able to execute their work and precisely understand the just limits of their circumstantial freedom, members of legitimate news media (not propaganda institutes posing as legitimate news media) must have a precise understanding of the nature of the modern State and the essential role that members of the communications media play as a watchdog within the State.

Regarding the nature of the State, they need to understand that the government is not the State. The State is a free association of people, including members of a free press, seeking more perfect union through peaceful cooperation. In this sense the State is a free association of people involved in collective self-government through a rule of law, agreements of just self-regulation, for which they hire the services of different administrative agents.

The government’s job is chiefly to represent the people to secure peace through enforcement of just laws made by informed citizens through their representatives. As such, the government, like the media, is simply an agent of citizen self-rule and regulation (that is, an agent of the State). And an essential role of a communication’s media within the State is to represent the people considered as a political whole to insure that the government does not exceed the circumstantial freedom that citizens invest in it to represent them in citizen self-rule. Beyond that, the media has an inalienable moral right and responsibility (which no political government has the moral right unjustly to limit) to communicate to citizens any and every political danger that really threatens citizens and the State and any political good that enhances peace and cooperation among citizens and citizen self-rule.

The Situation Today

Unhappily, today, under the grandiose, utopian socialist, misunderstandings about human nature, the nature of political associations, and political self-rule, members of different forms of media often fall into a form of self-misunderstanding in which, instead of following their moral responsibility to be guard-dogs of individual liberty, they become propagandistic lapdogs for totalitarian despots.

A common presumption held by many Western elites today—especially by economic and educational bureaucrats, and members of the entertainment industry—who tend to control today’s major communications media, is that they constitute some sort of global world political order, an Enlightened World Scientific State. Being possessed of true social science, understanding the true nature of Freedom as scientific control of individual action, they are hell-bent on destroying every vestige of individual liberty and national sovereignty so that they can establish their Enlightened, scientifically-regulated, and technologically-controlled freedom that will finally liberate all the rest of us poor, backward, fools from clinging to our petty bourgeois, philistine idea of individual freedom.

That being the case, a chief moral duty and professional responsibility of today’s political media is be vigilant guardians of individual liberty and the justly possessed right of people’s to self-governance. And a chief moral obligation this media has is not to pander to despots for career advancement or similarly self-aggrandizing motives as Enlightened despots seek to mislead citizens into believing that our true liberty consists in living the life of an Enlightened serf.

Peter Redpath was Professor of Philosophy at St. John’s University. He is the author/editor of 17 philosophical books and dozens of articles and book reviews. He has given over 200 invited guest lectures nationally and internationally, and headed many prestigious organizations. He is the only non-Polish scholar to hold the Laudatio Achievement Award for attainment of intellectual and organizational wisdom, from the Department of Philosophy, Culture, and Art at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, in Poland. More information is found at his website. [Portions of this essay were originally published in the International Journal of World Peace, Vol, 18. No. 1 (March 2001). This article appears through the kind courtesy of the Catholic World Report.

Featured: A toy spaniel, a Pomeranian and a Maltese terrier at a basket, by Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Wegener; painted in 1855.

Is Putin Crazy?

Much is being said in the Western press about the alleged insanity of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, and some have even said outright that the Russian leader is “a psychopath.” To reduce the very complex reality of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict (which is much more than a clash between Russia and Ukraine) to the psychological anxieties of a single individual (namely, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin) is to stupidly block out understanding and not to attend to the dialectical and pluralistic (not Manichean dualistic or harmonistic) webs of the present geopolitics at work. Such diagnoses only show that the person who affirms them is a prisoner of the crudest and silliest psychologism.

One of those who say that Putin is mad is the fervent Russianophobic Judeo-Magyarist-American globalist Esperantist George Soros: “Putin seems to have literally gone mad. He has decided to punish Ukraine for standing up to him and seems to be acting without restraint. He is throwing the entire Russian army into battle and ignoring all the rules of war.”

Says the tycoon who with his foundations is spreading truly delusional ideologies. Since we avoid psychologism at all costs, we prefer to speak of objective madness (see, Gustavo Bueno).

The oligarch who was once the richest man in Russia, an opponent of Putin who spent ten years in jail for tax evasion, although he denied it, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, affirmed from his London exile that this war is the result of an “emotional decision by Putin,” and that the leader shows “signs of senile paranoia” because he is a “madman in the clinical sense.”

But let’s look at the position of the experts, and not of the talk show hosts on duty who start talking like real specialists on any subject without having any idea of what they are talking about (get rid of the vain talk show hosts, we should add, paraphrasing Paul of Tarsus).

The president of the Spanish Society of Criminology and Forensic Sciences (SCEE), Carlos López Gobernado, states categorically: “Without any doubt, Putin is not a psychopath. He has a very clear mind… He is not. He knows perfectly well what he wants and he wants it for his country. Rather than psychopathic traits, I see geopolitical motives. Russia wants its space at the international level. There are supranational interests at stake here. More than personality conflicts, I find questions of statesmanship and geopolitical power politics.” To paraphrase the vile Clinton, “it’s geopolitics, stupid.”

Henry Kissinger, a professional politician who has spent more than fifty years keeping an eye on geopolitical entanglements, has gone so far as to say, “For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.”

Putin could not have remained in power for 20 years if he simply and despotically offered tyranny and repression to his fellow citizens. To think of such “tyranny” is to offend the intelligence of Russians, given that Putin is one of the most popular politicians in the world (probably the most popular).

As acknowledged in Foreign Affairs, in a May/June 2021 article by Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy at Columbia University Timothy Frye: Over the past 20 years, Putin’s approval ratings have averaged a remarkable 74 percent, and there is little reason to believe that Russians are lying to pollsters in large numbers. But these high approval ratings were largely driven by the economic boom that doubled the size of Russia’s economy between 1998 and 2008 and the unique foreign policy success of the 2014 annexation of Crimea. Since 2018, Putin’s popularity has wavered. His approval ratings remain in the mid-60s, but Russians express much less confidence in him than in the past. In a November 2017 poll, when asked to name five politicians they trust, 59 percent of respondents named Putin; in February 2021, only 32 percent did so. During the same interval, support for a fifth Putin term fell from 70 percent to 48 percent, with 41 percent of Russians surveyed now saying they would prefer he step down.

With a month of war in Ukraine, we read in the foreign press (it seems that in the mainstream Spanish press, with some exceptions, we won’t read that) that Putin’s popularity has risen to 83%.

Be that as it may, it is an insult to the intelligence of the Russian people that they have trusted for so long a stupid, crazy man, or a psychopath who is willing to press, simply out of sheer evil, the nuclear button. Or that among his favorite hobbies is genocide. Lately this word the mainstream media writes and pronounces in Spain with much joy, and anything or any war crime is mistaken for genocide. But such a fine distinction is not something that is habitually made by the ignorant masses.

One must keep in mind that Putin inherited a devastated, shattered Russia, with the vast majority of its population demoralized by living in misery after a decade of the collapse and ruin of the Soviet Union (with the war in Chechnya fueling the misery). Putin’s governments have been gradually reversing the situation. It is as if his enemies never forgave him.

It is very simple-minded and typical of Western journalists, who are functionally illiterate in the noble art of geopolitics, along with the pretensions of pantologists and experts in universality, to believe that an overly prudent politician like Vladimir Putin (as he has shown during his twenty years in office, from 2008 to 2012 as Prime Minister) would ever make such a mistake of not foreseeing the consequences of the Western sanctions (i.e., those of NATO plus Japan and Australia) and that he has simply “lost his mind” (such is the “rigor” with which the matter has been dismissed in mainstream media).

But the truth is that neither China, nor Mexico, nor Brazil, nor India, nor Iran, nor South Africa and other countries (actually most of the world’s states) have imposed sanctions on Russia, which together with China has been preparing since 2015 for the de-dollarization of their economies, while putting in place parallel systems to SWIFT, such as the Chinese Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS, for its acronym in English). “The CIPS system, which some Russian banks already joined in 2019, as confirmed by Vladimir Shapovalov, head of the Bank of Russia, could become strong enough to allow the two neighboring powers to bypass the Western system.”

The US and EU plan is to isolate Russia with sanctions so that the oligarchs, seeing how their businesses are being destroyed, will rebel against Putin. But won’t Putin have everything neatly wrapped up and firmly wrapped up?

And while the war is raging in Ukraine, the EU pays Russia about a billion euros a day for its energy (although it has demanded to be paid in rubles, which Russia now wants to back in gold, which could change the rules of the geo-economic game). The gas pipelines have been operating normally. Russia is punished with sanctions but at the same time the war is financed by buying Russia’s gas. What will not be bought in peacetime? Russia is an energy giant that Europe can hardly do without. Russia is not to be scorned, even if this is shocking to democratic and liberal fundamentalism. At the Antalya Diplomatic Forum held on March 11, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, admitted that sanctions against Russia “have a very high cost for the whole world.”

In the face of Western sanctions Russia could count on BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), an international body that was launched in 2008-2009 and which—as the US Council on Foreign Relations knows—” BRICS has already become a platform for efforts to build an alternative financial system, with the group’s development bank raising funds in local currencies as part of its goal to ‘break away from the tyranny of hard currencies.'”

As far back as 2019 the RAND Corporation report said, “Imposing deeper trade and financial sanctions would also likely degrade the Russian economy, especially if such sanctions are comprehensive and multilateral. Thus, their effectiveness will depend on the willingness of other countries to join in such a process. But sanctions come with costs and, depending on their severity, considerable risks.”

Putin did not get along entirely badly with Donald Trump. In the four years of the Orange Man sitting in the Oval Office, the US-Russia relations were very different from how they were with Obama or how they are now with Biden (who called Putin a “murderer”—as if the United States, and as if the Obama Administration of which he was Vice President, did not have a bloodthirsty career). Trump’s return to the White House could appease relations with Russia but strain them with China. And after the Ukrainian war, Trump would have a hard time winning the favor of a Russia already very much devoted to China.

As written in Foreign Affairs in November/December 2021, in an article by Fiona Hill, Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Center on the United States and Europe in the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, Putin shared many of the same enemies as Trump: “cosmopolitan, liberal elites; the American financier, philanthropist, and open society promoter George Soros; and anyone trying to expand voting rights, improve electoral systems, or cast a harsh light on corruption in their countries’ respective executive branches…. Trump railed against a mythological American deep state, whereas Putin—who spent decades as an intelligence operative before ascending to office—is a product of Russia’s very real deep state. Unlike Trump, who saw the U.S. state apparatus as his enemy and wanted to rule the country as an outsider, Putin rules Russia as a state insider. Also unlike Trump, Putin rarely dives into Russia’s social, class, racial, or religious divisions to gain political traction. Instead, although he targets individuals and social groups that enjoy little popular support, Putin tends to promote a single, synthetic Russian culture and identity to overcome the domestic conflicts of the past that destabilized and helped bring down both the Russian empire and the Soviet Union. That Putin seeks one Russia while Trump wanted many Americas during his time in office is more than just a difference in political styles: it is a critical data point. It highlights the fact that a successful U.S. policy approach to Russia will rest in part on denying Putin and Russian operatives the possibility to exploit divisions in American society.”

The Spanish bourgeois press, especially that of the “global daily” (globalist), maintains that Putin fears that next to the Russian border the “evolution of a free and thriving society” is being forged and “not any of the weapons that the Central European countries may have on their territory. None of them is a military danger to Russia. They are all, and Ukraine in particular, a danger as an example that freedom can be successful and not necessarily be a source of violence and chaos as happened in Yeltsin’s Russia and which is the scarecrow that Putin uses to defend his despotism. If the Ukrainian brethren can have a democratic and free country that works, there is a danger that the Russian brethren will conclude that they can, too. That is what Putin fears. That is why he says he is going to destroy the anti-Russia that the West has put in front of his door. What he has in front of his door is not against Russia, but it is a society that is against tyranny, and he feels, with much logic, very affected.”

In order to hold up the corrupt Ukrainian oligarchy as an example of a “free and thriving society” that “goes against tyranny,” it is necessary to have a face not made of reinforced concrete, but of titanium diboride. But this is how they tend to spin it in the once “Independent Morning Newspaper” but now “The Global Newspaper” (globalist, very globalist). This is the same media that published Zelensky’s corruption when he was in the Pandora Papers: “In March 2019, a month before winning the elections, Zelenski transferred his shares to Sergiy Shefir, a close friend and business partner who later became one of his main political advisors in Kiev. Neither the minister nor his advisers have responded to requests for comment.”

In the other bourgeois press, the liberal jim-dandy, the one that sees communists as the child in The Sixth Sense saw the dead. We are referring to the pie-in-the-sky Libertad Digital; and they just cannot stop writing nonsense wholesale: “Putin is the leader of a gigantic terrorist gang, president of a world terrorist power, called Russia. A mediocre nostalgic with nuclear arsenal and lack of scruples. We have been informed by many Russians who worked for him, who brought him to power and who risked their lives or freedom denouncing him. For nothing?”

A journalist, who is the epitome of being mediocre, calls the greatest statesman of our time “mediocre.” Ignorance has always been very bold.

But the one who takes the cake is the owner of a dog-and-pony show, one Federico Jiménez Losantos, whose comments are laughable. He calls Putin “communist” every other morning (like a mantra). And he pronounces this word with the same insulting tone as progressives pronounce the word “fascist.”

But Putin’s Russia is the country where more churches are being built and where the Christian religion (Orthodox, of course) is making a comeback; where gender ideology and liberal cosmopolitanism are most firmly attacked (Soros cannot enter there—n our country he has even got into the kitchen); where a private sector is becoming more and more influential in its economy; where brands like Zara have hundreds of stores throughout its vast territory; and where the Russian Communist Party is the main force of opposition to United Russia (Putin’s party).

To say that Putin is a communist and that he wants to restore the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is simply supreme ignorance or crude demonizing propaganda, the same as the former COPE announcer does with the USSR and communism in general in his book which is as fat as it is nonsensical, Memoria del comunismo (Memory of Communism). But that, among other things, is what I am here to criticize.

Agapito Maestre, professor of philosophy at the Complutense University of Madrid, is not far behind either, having authored such unreasonable and stupid statements as: “Putin only intends to return to the old and cruel Stalinism. The totalitarian process of Putin’s era is also irreversible: the whole of Russia is already a Gulag. It will continue to stagnate economically, politically and socially.”

It is embarrassing that a philosopher, who even admired Gustavo Bueno during his lifetime and also after his eternal birth, should write such nonsense. You should amend your judgment, Don Agapito, because such statements are typical of the corruption of understanding or of a third-rate sophist.

Daniel Miguel López Rodríguez lives in Cortegana (Huelva), Spain. He has a PhD in philosophy from the University of Seville. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Posmodernia.

Featured image: “Vladimir Putin,” by Kalin Modev; painted in 2015.

An Example of British Misinformation About the War in Ukraine

As everyone has been able to see for several months, the Ukrainian conflict is as much a “physical” military conflict as it is an unbridled and paradoxically limited information war, since each side has banned the broadcasting of the opposing media, and can only influence its own opinion.

The latest example is an article published by the British Daily Mail on April 18th, following the (very real) bombings carried out by the Russian army on arms depots in the city of Lviv (Western Ukraine). The article is written by “journalists” Chris Jewers and Will Stewart. The title reads: “Chilling video shows Putin’s Tu-95 nuclear bombers flying near Ukrainian border as Russian rockets kill at least six in Lviv.”

There follows a video allegedly taken near Ukraine with the caption: “Vladimir Putin sent up his strategic bombers in the skies over Western Russia today amid huge pressure on the Kremlin over the sinking of the Moskva flagship in the Black Sea.” Under this video, there are also two archive photos showing the “strategic bombers” in question, one very blurred, the other in close-up.

However, it is not necessary to be a great aeronautical specialist to note that the aircraft in the video are not TU-95s. One can certainly recognize a TU-160 strategic bomber (NATO code “Blackjack”), preceded by an IL78 (NATO code name “Midas)”, a tanker version of the IL76, and accompanied by four fighters, probably Mig 31s.

Moreover, the flight formation adopted by the aircraft does not correspond to a combat mission—but is actually a photo of a fly-past, or more probably of the rehearsal of the fly-past, which took place on May 9th, for the “Victory Day,” commemorating the fall of the Third Reich and the end of the Second World War, as confirmed, if it were even necessary, by a photo taken on May 9, 2009, presenting more or less the same flight formation as in the video in question.

It is therefore very likely that this undated video was not taken near Ukraine either.

It is quite simply incredible to see such “information,” coming a priori from a video found on social media, being relayed thus by Western media. If we give the journalists the benefit of the doubt concerning their knowledge of the aircraft, there are however too many constructed and unfounded assertions in the article itself to believe that an error was made.

The photos of the aircraft presented are also questionable—like the video, they are neither sourced (“© Social Media” does not mean much), nor dated.

Finally, the journalists declare in the heading of the article that Putin had his strategic bombers take off in the West of Russia, close to Ukraine (unconfirmed information), without ever mentioning the fact that since the beginning of January 2022, about 2 to 3 times a week, the Americans send their strategic B-52 bombers, based in the United Kingdom, to fly over the European continent and turn back when they arrive close to the Russian or Belarusian borders. [These flights can be regularly observed].

It is therefore more necessary than ever to be wary of any information served up by one side or the other in this conflict, as the Western media are neither more neutral nor more reliable than those in Russia.

Alain Charret spent a little more than 25 years in the Air Force during which he served in various listening centers in France, but especially in Germany, before the fall of the USSR. He lives in Antibes.

Eric Denécé is a political scientist who is the Director of Centre Français de Recherche sur le Renseignement (CF2R), to which we are grateful for making the English version of this article possible. [Translated from the French by N. Dass).

Featured image: “Detail from “Women of Britain Come into the Factories,” Propaganda Poster, ca. 1940.

A Forgotten Interlude

What follows is the script of a broadcast which Ronald Knox made on January 16th, 1926, on the BBC, which purportedly gave a “live report” of a revolution taking place in London, with all the usual havoc and pandemonium. The broadcast set off a nation-wide panic, since memory of the Russian Revolution qas still fresh in people’s minds.

The broadcast is a classic piece of satire, which was later imitated by Orson Welles in his famous War of the Worlds broadcast of October 30th, 1938.

Bzz! Bang! Bzz!

(Indistinct voice of an elderly don is heard in the middle of a lecture)

…weached itth perfection in Gway’th Elegy. The dithtinctive note, then, of eighthteenth thentuwy litewature ith that of technical perfection within a vewy limited wange of performanth. It wath time, perhapth, that the Fwench Wevolution came to dithturb the thecure domination of thothe conventional ideath which were thweatening the human geniuth with thtagnathion. Amid much that wath wegwettable in that movement, thith at leatht ith to be put down to itth cwedit, that it opened the way to a weadjuthtment of litewawy valueth and a higher thenthe of the poththibilitieth of human achievement.

(A prolonged cough, followed by silence).

(The Operator): London calling! That was Mr. William Donkinson, lecturing to you on Eighteenth Century Literature. Mr. William Donkinson. We are now continuing the news bulletin since half-past six. The Test Match. The closing score when stumps were drawn in the Test Match was as follows: Australia 569 for seven wickets. The English team, it will be remembered, was all out for 173. Plucky waterman saves life at Chiswick.

This morning, at a quarter past ten, shouts of help were heard from the Embankment close to Ponder’s Row, Chiswick. James Bates, a waterman, whose attention was called to the cries by a bystander, jumped into the water, and rescued Susie, the five-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Holmes, of 17 Sunbury Place, Chiswick. The little one is believed to have fallen into the water accidentally while playing.

The Unemployed Demonstration. The crowd in Trafalgar Square is now assuming threatening dimensions. Threatening dimensions are now being assumed by the crowd which has collected in Trafalgar Square to voice the grievances of the Unemployed. Mr. Popplebury, the Secretary of the National Movement for Abolishing Theatre Queues, has been urging the crowd to sack the National Gallery. The desirability of sacking the National Gallery is being urged by Mr. Popplebury, Secretary of the National Movement for Abolishing Theatre Queues… One moment, please…

London calling; continuation of news bulletin from reports which have just come to hand. The crowd in Trafalgar Square is now proceeding, at the instigation of Mr. Popplebury, Secretary of the National Movement for Abolishing Theatre Queues, to sack the National Gallery. The National Gallery was first erected in 1838, to house the famous Angerstein collection of pictures, and has been considerably added to since. A new wing, designed by Mr. E. M. Barry, R.A., was added in 1876. It contains many well-known pictures by Raphael, Titian, Murillo, and other artists. It is now being sacked by the crowd, on the advice of Mr. Popplebury, Secretary of the National Movement for Abolishing Theatre Queues. That concludes the news bulletin for the moment; you will now be connected with the band at the Savoy Hotel.

(Dance music on the gramophone).

Hullo, everybody! London calling. You will now be given the weather report for tomorrow. The weather report for tomorrow now beginning. Fine generally, with occasional showers in the South and a continuous downpour in the North. The wind will be violent in England, and in Scotland will probably assume the dimensions of a hurricane. High tide at London Bridge 7.15. That was the weather report for to-morrow.

Continuation of the News Bulletin. The Test Match.

The latest weather reports from Australia announce that a light rain is falling, and the wicket will probably be somewhat sticky when the Australians take the field tomorrow morning.

The Unemployed Demonstration. The crowd is now pouring through the Admiralty Arch, and is advancing towards the back of the Government Buildings in Whitehall in a threatening manner. The Admiralty Arch is being poured through by a crowd, lately collected in Trafalgar Square, and the back of the Government Buildings in Whitehall is being approached in a threatening manner. The Admiralty Arch, designed by Sir Aston Webb, was erected in 1910 as part of the national memorial to Queen Victoria.

One moment, please… The crowd has now collected in the neighbourhood of the artificial water in St. James’ Park, and is throwing empty bottles at the water-fowl. Empty bottles are being discharged by the crowds at the water-fowl on the artificial water in St James’ Park. So far, no casualties have been reported. That concludes the News Bulletin for the moment.

Sir Theophilus Gooch, well-known for his many philanthropic schemes, will now address you on the Housing of the Poor. A lecture on the Housing of the Poor will now be delivered by Sir Theophilus Gooch, K.B.E. Sir Theophilus, it will be remembered, has for many years been chairman of the Committee for the Inspection of Insanitary Dwellings, and speaks with authority on his subject.

Eh, what’s that? One moment, please…

From reports which have just come to hand it appears that Sir Theophilus Gooch, who was on his way to this station, has been intercepted by the remnants of the crowd still collected in Trafalgar Square, and is being roasted alive. Bom in 1879, Sir Theophilus Gooch entered the service of Messrs. Goodbody, the well-known firm of brokers. He very soon attracted the notice of his employers. However, nothing was proved, and Sir Theophilus retired with a considerable fortune. His retirement did not mean idleness; he has been prominent during the last ten years on many Committees connected with social improvement. He is now being roasted alive by a crowd in Trafalgar Square. He will, therefore, be unable to deliver his lecture to you on the Housing of the Poor. You will be connected instead with the Savoy Band for a few minutes.


Hullo everybody! London calling. Continuation of News bulletin. Famous film actress arrives at Southampton. Miss Joy Gush, the well-known film actress, landed this afternoon at Southampton. Interviewed by the Press, Miss Gush said she had had a capital crossing.

Unemployed Demonstrations in London. The crowd has now passed along Whitehall, and at the suggestion of Mr. Popplebury, Secretary of the National Movement for Abolishing Theatre Queues, is preparing to demolish the Houses of Parliament with trench mortars. The use of trench mortars for demolishing the Houses of Parliament is being recommended by Mr. Popplebury, Secretary of the National Movement for Abolishing Theatre Queues.

The building of the existing Houses of Parliament was begun in 1840. The designs were those of Sir Charles Barry. The structure roughly forms a parallelogram, 900 feet in length by 300 in width. The internal decorations, frescoes, and statues are deservedly admired. The building is made of magnesian limestone from Yorkshire, a material which is unfortunately liable to rapid decay.

At present, in any case, it is being demolished with trench mortars under the influence of Mr. Popplebury, Secretary of the National Movement for Abolishing Theatre Queues. The three towers are 300 feet, 320 feet, and 346 feet high respectively.

The Clock Tower, 320 feet in height, has just fallen to the ground, together with the famous clock. Big Ben, which used to strike the hours on a bell weighing nine tons. Greenwich time will not be given this evening by Big Ben, but will be given from Edinburgh on Uncle Leslie’s repeating watch.

Uncle Leslie’s repeating watch will be used for giving Greenwich time this evening, instead of Big Ben, which has just fallen to the ground, under the influence of trench mortars. One moment, please…

Fresh reports, which have just come to hand, announce that the crowd have secured the person of Mr. Wotherspoon, the Minister of Traffic, who was attempting to make his escape in disguise. He has now been hanged from a lamp-post in the Vauxhall Bridge Road. One of the lamp-posts in the Vauxhall Bridge Road has been utilized by the crowd for the purpose of hanging Mr. Wotherspoon, the Minister of Traffic.

The crowd is now returning along Whitehall. One moment, please…

The British Broadcasting Company regrets that one item in the news has been inaccurately given; the correction now follows.

It was stated in our news bulletin that the Minister of Traffic had been hanged from a lamp-post in the Vauxhall Bridge Road. Subsequent and more accurate reports show that it was not a lamp-post but a tramway post which was used for this purpose. A tramway post, not a lamp-post, was used by the crowd for the purpose of hanging the Minister of Traffic.

The next three items in our programme are unavoidably cancelled; you will now be connected up with the Savoy Band again. (More gramophone, which stops suddenly with a loud report).

Hullo everybody! London calling. The Savoy Hotel has now been blown up by the crowd. That noise which you heard just now was the Savoy Hotel being blown up by the crowd, at the instigation of Mr. Popplebury, Secretary of the National Movement for Abolishing Theatre Queues. One moment, please…

The more unruly members of the crowd are now approaching the British Broadcasting Company’s London station with a threatening demeanour. A threatening demeanour is being exhibited by the crowd which is now approaching the B.B.C.’s London station. One moment, please…

Mr. Popplebury, Secretary of the National Movement for Abolishing Theatre Queues, with several other members of the crowd, is now in the waiting room. They are reading copies of the Radio Times.

Good-night everybody; good-night.

Featured image: “Rissa in galleria (“Riot in the Gallery”), by Umberto Boccioni, painted in 1911.

Who Really Owns Polish Media?

When the Polish television market was being formed in the 1990s, the concern was to ensure that it would not be dominated from the very beginning by foreign capital, which had a huge advantage over domestic capital, which in turn was only just beginning to be organized. Another concern was that Polish society should not be colonized by foreign capital in the media. It was also important that television stations of national range should not impose on Polish society the point of view – worldview or political preferences of the capital owner.

In other words, the point was that television stations should not have a decisive influence on Polish politics (even in a strictly electoral sense), on the professed values, on the self-esteem of citizens, consumer choice, lifestyle and even aesthetic judgments. The television and radio market was subject to licensing for these reasons as well, but primarily because initially there were not enough frequencies for anyone willing and able to operate in the market. For this reason, there had to be a market regulator, which became the National Broadcasting Council (operating since April 28, 1993, and established under the Broadcasting Act of December 29, 1992).

It was the National Broadcasting Council that granted two nationwide terrestrial broadcasting concessions – to the Polsat Company in 1994 and to TVN in 1997. Both entities were backed by Polish capital. The market regulator had little or no knowledge that important people in both of these entities had links to the Communist secret services, which gave them an advantage, both in terms of raising capital (e.g. from the Foreign Debt Service Fund, which was controlled by the Communist secret services and indeed illegal under international law), and in lobbying for the licenses. While the television market was not dominated by foreign capital in the 1990s, it was influenced by people in the communist apparatus of violence and control of society. They also influenced the program mandates of the stations, including the attitude towards the past. and political sympathies and antipathies resulting precisely from the attitude towards the past.

These problems did not change when foreign capital entered TVN (Polsat remained an entity with Polish capital), because a specific program mandate shaped the TVN audience, and in this way it became a valuable asset. This also determined the zeal and temperature of the actions in defense of TVN, whenever the station was accused of representing the interests of the post-communist forces and the part of the post-Solidarity elite that was in agreement with them. The support of the influential elites and their foreign contacts and influence are also decisive in supporting and defending the interests of TVN even in ownership issues, i.e., when ownership changes violate the provisions of the Broadcasting Act regarding the limitation to 49 percent of capital from outside the European Economic Area.

Regarding the amendment to the Broadcasting Act, and indirectly its effect on the TVN television company, there is a large amount of misinformation and, above all, constant brainwashing of people on an industrial scale.
The legal background is that article 35 of the Polish Broadcasting Act of 29 December 1992 requires that radio and television broadcasting in Poland should be majority owned and controlled by entities from the EEA (European Economic Area). No more than 49 % of the shares of broadcasters in Poland may be owned by entities from outside the EU. Requirements such as this are not unique to Poland, existing, for example, in Austria and France.

The current problem with TVN starts well before today. In 2015, TVN belonged to the ITI Group and the Canal+ Group, who controlled the formal owner, the nominal subsidiary company N-Vision B.V. These two companies (ITI and Canal+) both sold the majority of the shares (52,7%) in the TVN company to the American concern Scripps Networks Interactive for 584 million EUR. On June 16, 2015, Scripps Networks Interactive received approval from the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection to take over the TVN company.

Therefore, on July 1, the ITI Group and the Canal + Group sold all their shares in the nominal holding company N-Vision B.V., which controlled 52.7 % of shares in TVN, to a company called Southbank Media Ltd, registered in London and owned by Scripps Networks Interactive. On August 28, 2015, Scripps, through Southbank Media, purchased more TVN shares from stock exchange investors, increasing its ownership to 98.76%. On September 28, 2015, Scripps bought the remaining TVN shares, becoming one hundred percent owner.

Before Scripps bought 100% of the shares, it asked whether the purchase of TVN was compliant with Polish law, because their lawyers had read the Polish Broadcasting Act and had doubts regarding art. 35. Jan Dworak (chief of Polish Broadcasting Council at the time) hesitated a bit, but decided that it was possible. However, everyone was aware of the possible non-compliance with the Polish law, hence the contract included numerous safeguards in the event of the license being revoked. Safeguards were beneficial primarily to the seller, so that he would not have to pay possible compensation.

On July 31, 2017, Discovery Communications announced that it wanted to buy Scripps Networks Interactive (for $ 14.6 billion). The Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection was then ignored, so on February 6, 2018, it was the European Commission that conditionally agreed to this transaction. The condition was to provide operators with the TVN24 and TVN24 BiS signal at a “reasonable price”. On February 26, 2018, the US Department of Justice approved the purchase of Scripps Networks Interactive by Discovery Communications; so, on March 6, 2018, Scripps, and thus also TVN, was acquired. And in this way, and contrary to the law, an entity from outside the European Economic Area has 100 percent shares in a television company operating in Poland.

That is the origin of the current problem. In 2015, either the National Broadcasting Council should not have allowed this transaction; or it should have requested that the parliament amend the Broadcasting Act, because it does not allow any television or radio in Poland to be fully taken over by entities from outside the European Economic Area. Dworak’s Council, however, decided that the takeover was legal and possible.

All the time, TVN is formally owned by the nominal Dutch company with an address at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam – Polish Television Holding B.V. (controlling another paper-only company from Schiphol airport – N-Vision B.V., which owns TVN shares). The nominal company was sold first to Scripps in 2015 and then to Discovery in 2018. The nominal company operates in the European Economic Area, only it is virtual, so in fact 100 percent of TVN shares are owned by a non-EEA group (first Scripps then Discovery), which is inconsistent with the Broadcasting Act of 1992.

It was only in 2021 that the National Broadcasting Council decided that this could not be the case, although the law had been bent for six years. There are many indications that the National Broadcasting Council has reacted only after reports that Discovery is to merge with Warner Media. As a result, a media giant worth 150 billion dollars would be created. Warner of course would like to continue the game started in 2015 and would like to still disregard Polish law. The amendment to the Broadcasting Act halts this situation; and because it is about a lot of money and revenues, a great battle is being fought around it. It is also about whether Poland can pursue an independent policy in the field of media. And this policy is by no means unique in Europe, and Poland is not asking for anything extraordinary. Only the respect of the existing law.

Ownership issues in TVN television are only a fraction of the problems of the Polish media market, which in many segments presents such a high level of concentration that one can speak of hegemony. A high level of concentration in Poland is deemed to exist when a single entity (capital group) reaches a 30 percent share in one of the markets: advertising revenues, revenues from pay-TV fees, TV audience, radio audience or users of online audiovisual services.

Officially, under Polish law, an entity is considered dominant when it achieves a market share of over 40 percent in a given market. Only after exceeding this threshold can the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection block further acquisitions. But in the debate on deconcentration little attention is paid to the fact that dominant broadcasters also have an advantage in the role of advertising brokers. Such as TVN and Polsat, whose advertising bureaus serve not only their thematic channels, but also other media market players. And in their role as ad brokers they often have more influence on the market than as broadcasters.

In the 1990s the Polish media market was widely opened to foreign capital, which later resulted in concentrations exceeding safe levels. This was facilitated by being careless about violations of the law on capital restrictions, e.g., in the television market. As a result, about 70% of the television market in Poland is controlled by foreign broadcasters. The largest shares are held by Americans (controlling half of all TV content), among others Discovery Communications, Viacom, Time Warner, and ITI Neovision (American-French).

In the radio market, foreign companies control about 30% of the market, but radio RMF FM, owned by German Bauer, alone has a 26% share of the audience. On the internet, Onet, owned by German-Swiss Ringier Axel Springer, dominates (more than 17 million users); Interia, owned by German Bauer, is third (ca. 13 million users); TVN24, owned by American Discovery, is sixth (ca. 6 million users); and Fakt, owned by German-Swiss Ringier Axel Springer, is ninth (ca. 5.5 million users). Until recently, the websites of Polska Press Group, taken over by PKN Orlen in 2021, were also German.

The press market has been 70-75 percent dominated by foreign capital. The national press is dominated by German capital: 21 percent of titles belong to Bauer Group, 9 percent to Burda Media, 6 percent to Swiss-German Ringier Axel Springer Polska (including Fakt and Newsweek), 5 percent to Swiss Edipresse, 3 percent to Phoenix Press (German capital), 3 percent to Hearst Marquard Publishing (German capital), and 3 percent to Hearst Publishing (German capital) and Hearst Marquard Publishing (Swiss capital); 2% Egmont Polska (Danish capital). In the local press the dominance of foreign capital reaches as much as 95 percent, which significantly decreased after PKN Orlen took over the Polska Press Group, publishing 19 regional dailies and over 100 local weeklies. The publishers of the most popular monthlies and TV magazines are dominated by companies with German capital: Bauer and Burda Media. The remaining color magazines belong to Swiss capital – Edipresse Polska.

In France, no one may own more than 49 percent of the capital or voting rights in a company holding a concession for a national terrestrial television channel, if its audience exceeds 8 percent of the total audience. At the same time, the owner of the concession may not own more than 33 percent of the capital or voting rights in a local or supra-regional station. Foreign capital cannot exceed 20 percent in a company holding a terrestrial radio or television license. No license will be granted to a broadcaster reaching more than 4 million viewers, 30 million listeners, or having a 20% share in the national circulation of newspapers. If the license is not for nationwide coverage, the same entity may have only one license in the same area. No license will be granted to an entity that owns one or more terrestrial digital television stations reaching 4 million people; that owns one or more radio licenses when the program reaches 30 million inhabitants; and that is the publisher of one or more newspapers, if their share of nationwide circulation exceeds 20 percent.

In Germany, competition and concentration in the media market are regulated by the Antitrust Act. Since 1997 there has been no limit on the number of radio and television licenses held in Germany, but there are various de facto regulations between the federal states that impose restrictions. The concentration threshold is 30 percent of viewership or listenership in a specific year for the media owned. A media company that exceeds the 30 percent threshold may sell its shares, limit its market share or make its airtime available to an independent entity. The rule of 10 percent audience share for one program or 20 percent audience share for other programs applies. In individual federal states, restrictions have been placed on so-called cross concentration, i.e., investments by newspaper publishing companies in radio and television.

For example, in North Rhine-Westphalia, a company dominating the newspaper market cannot hold a majority stake in a radio or television broadcaster operating in the same area. Although there are no restrictions on foreign ownership of the media market in Germany, it is in fact a market almost entirely dominated by domestic capital. This is primarily due to tradition and practice. Although entities such as Time Warner, News Corporation, Viacom or Ufa/Canal Plus France operate in the German television market, none of them has exceeded the 1 percent market share threshold.

Stanisław Janecki, is a well-known Polish journalist, columnist, political commentator and television host.

The featured image shows, “The Girl from Zaba,” by Wlastimil Hofman; painted in 1923.