Changes in the media market in Poland took place in 1990, along with the liquidation of the Workers’ Publishing Cooperative (Robotnicza Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza – RSW) – the largest press group in Poland and Central and Eastern Europe. For example, in 1988 this cooperative, which was a monopolist in the Polish market, used to publish 45 daily newspapers and 235 magazines. Polish United Workers’ Party (the Communist Party) had 95 percent stake in RSW and it directed the press and drew profits from it.
The liquidation of RSW was passed by Sejm (the lower house of the Parliament) and approved by Senate. This decision opens the path for privatisation of the Polish press, to the outright sale to foreign capital and also opened the opportunity for the foreign press corporations to partially take over the Polish market.
746 million newspaper copies are sold annually in Poland.
The market was divided amongst nineteen media companies: nine foreign (Bauer Publishing, Riniger Axel Springer, Polska Press Group, Edipresse Poland, Burda Media Poland, Phoenix Media, Marquard Media Poland, Egmont Poland and Bonier Business Poland) and ten Polish ones (Agora, ZPR Media, Gremi Group, West Druk Publishing, Infor Biznes, Gość Niedzielny Foundation, Polityka, PMPG Polskie Media, Fratria and Media Service Poland), which jointly control 185 periodicals. At first glance, the division looks uniform, however, the foreign publishers own 138 periodicals with the circulation of more than 567 million copies. While the Polish companies publish only 47 titles with the total circulation of 178 million copies.
So the entities with foreign capital control 76 percent of the media market.
Agora S.A., the largest and most influential Polish media group, publisher of “Gazeta Wyborcza”, has more than seven percent of market share. “Gazeta” has existed since 1989 and it was set up for the purpose of the “Solidarity” election campaign. From then on, the company has had real influence on Polish authorities and the perception of Poland all over the world – on manning government positions, and it also awards its own prizes in the field of literature, sponsoring cultural events. The editor in chief is invariably Adam Michnik.
Besides the daily “Gazeta”, Agora also publishes well over a dozen other periodicals. It is a modern media corporation operating on many levels” it owns the largest cinema chain in Poland – “Helios”, with 37 cinemas. It also deals in the promotion and distribution of Polish films, it runs own music and book publishing houses.
The largest shareholders of Agora S.A are Agora Holding sp. z o.o. (over 11 percent of the capital), PTE PZU (about 16 percent), Nationale Niderlanden PTE S.A. (over 9 percent of the capital). More than 45 percent of the capital belongs to the so-called free float. In June, a Soros’s international foundation bought Agora’s shares and now holds more than 11 percent of the shares and is one of the largest company’s shareholders.
The biggest concern is the German publishing house Bauer. The company began to invest in Poland soon after the transformation, and today, after 25 years, already owns 39 titles, with total sales of 248 million copies. It has a 33 percent of the market share. This is more than all the Polish publishing house together control. Bauer’s success stemmed from the liquidation of Polish women’s magazine sector and putting in its place the periodicals were earlier successfully tested on the German market.
The second place is occupied by the German concern Ringier Axel Springer. In addition to Poland, it also operates in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Serbia. It made his debut on the Polish market in 1994, issuing a magazine for women “Pani Domu”, now belonging to the Swiss Edipresse Poland. The company has 16% market share. It sells more than 122 million newspapers per year. Its flagship daily is the tabloid “Fakt” (selling over 300 thousand copies a day), the most popular newspaper in Poland. It also publishes the only foreign socio-political weekly in the country – “Newsweek Poland” – (120 thousand copies per week), which occupies the fourth place among the most widely read weeklies following “Angora”, “Gość Niedzielny” and “Polityka”.
What does this mean for Poland and Polish people?
To be condinued