Saturday, 7 January 2012

Poland really is the best

I fully admit to being completely biased in believing that Poland is one of the best places in the world for normal people to live. My bias being that I can only really compare it to England: I have never lived anywhere else. However, when I saw a repeated presentation on TVP of a German mocking the idea that Poland is No. 1, I wondered what it was about: it didn't say. Eventually, after a few days, the punchline was added showing it was part of TVP's political campaign to get more money.

What do you think is a better use of taxation (or equivalent), helping the poor, providing a decent basic health service, supporting education or TV entertainment? Enforced taxation to pay for television must be one of the ultimate immoralities. Be proud Poland, be very proud that you do not accept this. Ignore TVP's irony and recognise that Poland is superior, with a far more advanced approach to the trivia of life than those other, brain washed countries. You are the best.

Some of TVP's advertising/propoganda is shown on their 'news' site, which roughly translated includes:

Poles champions in non-payment of subscription

Poland number one in Europe. Unfortunately this title us does not bring us pride. We are leader in the non-payment of the radio/television subscription. Over 3 million people are in arrears in payments worth over 2 billion zlotys. Nationally, the percentage avoiding payment is 65 percent.

"Poland is number one in Europe? Impossible!” – is said on one TV spot, underlining the specific character of our country. In Germany the percentage of people avoiding subscription payment is only 2 percent, in Austria – 4. In Great Britain it amounts to 5 percent of inhabitants.

– "The objective of the campaign is to inform ourselves as to how sad we look against the background of Europe. How much we fail to keep to European standards" – says Jolanta Wisniewska, President of the Association of Public Media Employers.

–"the low collectibility of the subscription in Poland is a result of historic failures by the state, the public media, and the people", comments media expert Doctor hab. Maciej Mrozowski from Warsaw University.

Mr. Jerzy Pluta from Strzelec Krajeński in Lubuskie pays the subscription regularly and is convinced of the advantages of the allocated money: "Surely everyone will find something. I like the news first, sports information second, and serials third. Statistics on receipts from the subscription also improves large companies."

Etc, etc

Well obviously, the rich guys at TVP want more money: fair enough. Even us pensioners would like that. The President of the Association of Public Media Employers is presumably a TVP puppet figure and spokesman. Personally, however, it does bring me pride that Poles reject the concept of state control of their lives down to such areas as TV entertainment. One of the things I detest is the regular, mindless commentary that Poland is bad because it doesn't meet a statistical European average. The issue is always whether what Poland is doing is good or not. Being an independent country with its own ideas and perspective is a compliment, not an insult. (Number one in road deaths - bad; number one on rejecting state controlled TV - good.)

I particularly like the 'Joe Public' comment. News, sports and serials are the common fare of all the stations, government controlled or not. People are making the choice that they don't want to pay extra money for TVP's expansion of an otherwise extremely wide choice. It's the coercion that TVP wants - the elimination of choice - that is the immorality.

Public TV appears to be written into the constitution. Quickly looking through it, I couldn't find anything, but I remember what I think was a statement from the Constitutional Court saying that they couldn't judge on the abolition of the subscription without knowing what would replace it. The alternative proposal is/was that Government ministries should allocate funds according to their own policies. However, how would this work? Parliamentary broadcasts seem supportable, but the only general programme I can think of is the excellent farmers' programme, which the Ministry of Agriculture should be willing to support. Certainly not M Jak Miłoszcz. Who would want to support the popular music quiz programme where the pianist turns round at TVP propaganda time and says "without you paying your subscription, this programme won't continue"? If only he was telling the truth ...

The Ministries already pay for adverts and programme slots anyway. I've been very impressed by the Polish Government's advertising on its work on European funding programmes. In the UK we honestly believed that development money should be used for development, but watching in Poland I an now far less certain that we were right (although the situations are different). Does it really work though? There is a fascinating sponsorship by the Ministry of Regional Development of one of the quiz shows, where there is always a very general question about EU funding programmes eg which Ministry is responsible for a certain programme. (Did you know sponsors buy questions?) I have never seen any of the contestants have a single idea what the answer might be: even just saying 'Ministry of Regional Development' gives them a good chance of getting it right, but they have never heard about these things before.

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