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Poland: Internet set to overtake television

Poland's media are now gradually recovering from the financial and economic crisis, and the Internet has an important role to play in this process. Just how important is demonstrated by the story of Michał Brański.

In November 2014 the news magazine Wprost published its annual list of the most influential Poles and unexpectedly awarded thirteenth place to the manager Brański, who until then had been known only in business circles. At the beginning of that year Brański's journalistic online portal O2 had taken over its direct rival Wirtualna Polska (WP). Together the two services record user figures of almost 12 million - an unmatched record in Poland. Brański thus managed to overtake the former number one Onet (9.6 million), which is owned by the German-Swiss joint venture Ringier Axel Springer Media AG (RAS). Brański thus became Poland's third most important media actor, alongside RAS and the number one in television, the state broadcaster TVP.

The important role of the Internet.
(© picture-alliance/dpa)

Although television still leads the Polish market in terms of advertising revenues, as shown by a study conducted by the international consultancy Pricewaterhouse Coopers, experts believe that by 2018 online portals will have overtaken television in this respect. Nevertheless, RAS still remains a determining factor on account of its size. Like Onet it owns many important newspapers and magazines, including the tabloid Fakt, which with a circulation of 330,000 dominates the newspaper market.

Up till now RAS's main rival was the publisher Agora. Its flagship publication, the liberal Gazeta Wyborcza, was Poland's first independent newspaper following the fall of communism. Together with the conservative Rzeczpospolita it was a major shaper of debate in the country. In 2014, however, both newspapers saw their sales fall.

Magazines have also suffered losses. The market leader, the Catholic weekly Gość Niedzielny (GN), has stagnated at a circulation of 141,000. Sales of the left-wing-liberal Polityka fell by 2.8 percent to 121,000. And Newsweek Polska even lost 6 percent of its readership, falling to 119,000 sold copies.

GN and other Catholic media have survived the crisis largely unscathed, because they have a regular readership and are backed by Church money. They espouse traditional values such as family and religion and sometimes engage in bitter debates with the secular media.

In business terms, however, Poland's media market looks set to grow again. By 2018 it will have expanded by 5.8 percent - driven by the Internet, whose advertising revenues will increase by 15 percent, the Pricewaterhouse Coopers analysts predict.

Press Freedom Index:

Reporters without Borders: 18th place (2015)
Freedom House: 49th place (2014)

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