Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Another Brilliant Idea from Self-Defense

So the geniuses at the neo-socialist Self Defense party have come up with another brilliant idea. They are proposing a new law that would forbid Polish television stations from inserting commercials into movies and other programming without the consent of the author. Sure, nobody's happy that they have to sit through advertising in the middle of another showing of Home Alone (a perennial favorite around the holidays). Self Defense deputy Janusz Maksymiuk, the leader of the anti-commercials movement, says that interrupting programming with those silly ads is not elegant and destroys art.

Self-Defense should really stick to corruption (with another case described on the front page of Gazeta Wyborcza today), leaving television to people who have a clue. How does Mr. Maksymiuk think that programming is paid for on broadcast television? How does he expect "authors" to make money if the television stations don't buy their movies? None of the private stations have the luxury of a "TV tax" enjoyed by the public broadcaster (TVP). How would they get permission from foreign producers or those who passed away?

At first glance this looks like a simple case of pandering to the Polish couch potatoes. But at a second look, it;s more like a heavy-handed attempt to hurt private stations for the benefit of TVP. Just last week the Kaczynski twins put in a trusted crony to run TVP, seemingly taking a lesson from Uncle Vladimir to the east. Are we seeing another push to hurt private television stations or, at the very least, to pressure them to stop being so critical?

Is Self-Defense looking for revenge after being ravaged in the recent months because of the sex scandal? This is certainly not the first time Lepper and Co. have targeted the media.

This silly idea should -- and probably will -- die a quick death. Hopefully nobody will take it too seriously. After all, don't we all need a bathroom break next time Czterej Pancerni i Pies is on?


beatroot said...

We should make clear to readers that public TV does not have annoying ads in the middle of films (good and normal practice in ‘socialist’ Europe…that’s why TV is better than in the US)) but does have them at the end and in-between programs. They can do that because of the license payer.

But….the fact that TVP can take both adverts AND license is bad for several reasons – most importantly because it screws up the advertising market. It also encourages people NOT to pay the license (why should we pay twice for public TV? )

A better solution would be the British model (where public TV is the best in the world). BBC is not allowed to take ads. So that way you get two distinct sectors – public and private. What is wrong with the Polish model is that TVP is a kind of bastard between the two models.

Chris Borowski said...

Thanks beat. You're right to add the note about TVP not interrupting programs with commercials. Hence the proposed law has private stations in its cross hair.

And indeed, the fact that TVP can run commercials and takes money out of the pockets of all TV viewers (even those who do not watch much of TVP programming) in the form of a license payment does disrupt the market. TVP is infamous for its over-employment and careless spending that also increases prices for movies and other programming for all Polish stations.

But my solution would be not to go in the direction of BBC, but rather take the US approach and privatize it ASAP. Of course this is not very doable in "socialist" Europe, but it would be the most efficient approach.

And I'd have to disagree on the quality of US TV... ;)