Discovery, Inc. has announced that it has formally notified the Polish government that it will take legal action under the bilateral investment treaty between the United States of America and the Republic of Poland.

The notification follows Poland’s refusal to renew Discovery’s TVN24 broadcasting license, and culminated in the vote yesterday in the lower house of the Polish Parliament to pass legislation that would ban upstream foreign media ownership in the country.

Discovery said the legislation “is the latest assault on independent media and freedom of the press, and takes direct aim at Discovery’s TVN, the country’s leading independent broadcasting group and news provider, as well as one of the largest U.S. investments in Poland.”

The Notice of Dispute was sent to President Andrzej Duda earlier today. Discovery says it continues to strive for a positive resolution to the situation, but should this fail, Discovery “intends to commence arbitration proceedings in accordance with Article IX(3) of the Treaty and seek full compensation for Poland’s breaches.”

JB Perrette, President and CEO of Discovery International, said: “Discovery has successfully operated and invested in Poland for nearly 25 years, making us now one of the biggest international investors and employers in this incredible country.  The current Polish government’s damaging and discriminatory actions, however, leave us no choice but to bring charges under the US-Poland bilateral investment treaty.  We are deeply committed to safeguarding our investment in Poland and its people, defending the public’s interest in independent media and the rights of freedom of expression.  Discovery, as a protected investor in Poland, is afforded important rights and freedoms under the US-Polish Treaty.  We do believe this legislation will have a chilling effect on U.S. and European investment into the Polish economy, and we will aggressively defend our rights.”

Discovery says that Poland’s conduct violates several obligations under the Treaty signed between the US and the Republic of Poland on 21 March 1990. The obligations include fair and equitable treatment, non-impairment by arbitrary and discriminatory measures, non-discrimination in granting licenses, and the prohibition on expropriation without compensation.

Jon Creamer

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