The contentious Poland media bill has ‘deeply disturbed' the United States

Washington has expressed its concern about a contentious media bill in Poland, which has raised doubts about the ruling Law and Justice party's (PiS) long-term prospects due to its shambolic journey through parliament.

The measure, which is largely regarded as targeting Poland's largest independent TV station, TVN, whose news program TVN24 has often been critical of the populist administration, "threatens media liberties," according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In a statement, Blinken stated that a free and independent media was critical to the bilateral relationship between the two nations, adding that “Poland's worrisome legislation” might potentially jeopardize economic investment.

Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland's prime minister, denied the government was targeting a specific station during a press conference on Thursday, saying the measure was "simply about strengthening the laws" on foreign media ownership.

If passed, the measure would make it illegal for non-EU firms to own a dominant position in Polish media, and it may compel Discovery, the US media conglomerate, to sell its majority investment in TVN, whose license expires at the end of next month.

According to the firm, the law is an "unprecedented attack on freedom of expression and media independence," putting Poland's "future as a democratic country in the international arena" and its "credibility in the eyes of investors" at risk.

Business executives in Poland have also expressed concern about the bill's potential impact on transatlantic relations. “The economic and social implications would be disastrous,” said Maciej Witucki, President of the Lewiatan Chamber of Commerce.

“It is quite possible that any American firm will consider ten times before investing even one dime in Poland. It also serves as a message to any possible foreign investors from other nations that investing in our country is fraught with danger.”

Protesters gathered outside Poland's parliament in Warsaw on Wednesday night after the 460-seat lower house passed the law by a vote of 228 to 216 following a tumultuous session in which the bill's passage was momentarily stalled by fierce opposition.

It happened after Morawiecki sacked his deputy, Jarosaw Gowin, the leader of the junior coalition member Accord, on Tuesday, causing the party to resign and stripping the PiS-led coalition of its majority.

PiS, on the other hand, was able to persuade enough MPs from minor parties, notably Accord, to defect. According to Polish media, cash and other incentives were on the table, with Gowin claiming that his MPs had been given government jobs and funding for their districts.

However, the party's fragility was revealed during the session when it lost several critical votes, including one to postpone a vote on the media bill. The speaker, PiS member Elżbieta Witek, ordered a new vote, which the government won, sparking accusations of "treason" and "fraud," and the opposition to proclaim the vote unlawful.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where it is anticipated to be defeated. The Senate must vote on it within a month. Senate Speaker Tomasz Grodzki tweeted, "The democratic majority in the senate will never support an attack on independent media." “We shall defend freedom of expression.”