Country Profile: Poland

Poland has one the most dynamic media markets in Europe. There are more than 300 TV and radio channels competing for the attention of listeners and viewers. Additionally, Poland has the third-biggest press sector in Europe, which is dominated by German media companies such as Axel Springer Ringier, Hubert Burda Media and Bauer Media Group.

Just as in its neighbouring countries, the Polish media landscape is struggling with the usual problems stemming from digitalisation (for example, in 2012, newspaper sales decreased 10 percent in total). Still, experts believe that the Polish media industry will continue to grow in the next decade. According to the “Global Entertainment and Media Outlook” published by the consulting agency PwC, the total net worth of Poland’s media and entertainment sector will increase to 9.5 billion Euros in this period.

Reflecting similar debates in both Great Britain and Germany, there is a considerable amount of controversy when it comes to the role and the funding of the Polish public broadcasting system. Critics frequently call for the complete dissolution of the institution, which maintains relatively high ratings and popularity among Polish citizens (especially among older people) but which faces economic turmoil due to difficulties in raising license fees.

Basic data

Population: 38.5 million
Religions: Roman-Catholic (89%), Orthodox (1,3%), Protestant (0,3%)
Largest Cities: Warsaw (1.7 million people), Kraków (756,000)
Government: Republic
Head of State: Bronislaw Komorowski (since 2010)
Prime Minister: Donald Tusk (since 2007)
EU member since: 2004
Unemployment rate in 2012: 12.6 %
Debt in 2013: 53.8% of GDP
Budget balance to GDP ratio: -2.1%
Share of global GDP: 0.9%
Total advertising expenditures: 6.8 billion Zlotys (2012)
Television time per capita: 242 minutes per day(2011)
Average number of newspapers sold per capita per day: 0.12
Largest media and telecommunications companies: Axel Springer/Ringier, Bauer Media Group, Agora, Polsat, ITI Group


After the fall of the Iron Curtain, the Polish newspaper and magazine landscape began to flourish. In the past 25 years, more than 7500 titles have been published. There were two reasons for this boom. First, state censorship was abolished and the principle of freedom of the press introduced. Secondly, economic reforms led to massive investments in the private sector.

It was foreign capital in particular that flooded the press sector. One of the first actors was the Bauer imprint (today: Bauer Media Group), which entered the market in 1991. Three years later Axel Springer joined Bauer with the creation of an independent Polish offshoot (Axel Springer Polska). In addition, Mecom Group (from 1990 -2006 via its subsidy Orkla Media Group), which is controlled by the British investor David Montgomery, began to play an important role.

As of today, Poland has the biggest publishing market in Eastern Europe. In 2012, there were 15 national and 22 regional daily newspapers as well as 300 weekly publications and two major press agencies – the state owned PAP (Polska Agencja Prasowa) and the Catholic competitor KAI. 12 million people (one third of the Polish population) are avid readers of newspapers, of which roughly five millions units are sold everyday. The publishing sector is mostly controlled by six companies:

Ringier Axel Springer
In a joint venture with Swiss media company Ringier, Springer publishes the biggest tabloid newspaper “Fakt” as well as the daily sports newspaper “PRZEGLAD SPORTOWY”. “Fakt”, with an average circulation of 370.000 and more than four million regular readers in 2012, is the biggest newspaper in Poland. Between 2006 and 2009 Springer also published a more serious journalistic newspaper, “Dziennik”, which was modelled after Germany’s “Die Welt”. But due to wanting sales and a disappointing circulation of 90.000 units Springer sold the “Dziennik” to Infor Bizness, which then merged it with its on title “Gazeta Prawna”. Alongside “Fakt” and “PRZEGLAD SPORTOWY”, Springer also publishes 12 magazines, for example TOP GEAR, Auto Swiat and Newsweek Polska. In 2011 Springer Ringier had a market share of 35,8 percent, making it by far the biggest publishing company in Poland.

Bauer Media Group
In 2012, with a market share of 56 percent, Bauer Media Group was the biggest magazine publisher in Poland. The company publishes 86 magazines (including Auto Moto, Bravo and tv14) as well as 14 online domains (including PCformat, Mobial and Flirtbox).

Hubert Burda Media
Hubert Burda Media publishes 17 magazines in Poland (burda, Chip, CRN, Elle, Elle Decoration, Dobre Rady, Panoramy, Sudoku, Szyfrówki, InStyle, Ogrod, Polska gotuje, Przepis Na Ogrod, Przyslij Przepis!, 200 panoram, Przyslij Przepis! Krzyzowki, Kotlety Zrazy-Pulpety, Samo Zdrowic, Sielski Zycie and Sól i Pieprz).

Polskapresse Sp.z o.o.
Polskapresse is the Polish offshoot of the German publisher Verlagsgruppe Passau and currently owns nine newspapers („Dziennik Baltycki“, „Dziennik Lodzki“, „Dziennik Zachodni“, „Express Ilustrowany“, „Gazeta Krakowska“, „Glos Wielkopolski“, „Gazeta Wroclawska“, „Kurier Lubelski“ und „Dziennik Polska“), four weeklies (Moto Express, Autogielda Wielkopolska, Jarmark, Motojarmark), one magazine (Echo Miasta), and three television supplements (Tele Magazyn, Super Tele, TV Pilot). Polskapresse’s newspapers have a combined daily circulation of 3.1 million units. Its latest annual sales amounted to 117 million Euros, which translates into a market share of 15 percent. In March 2013 Polskapresse bought nine additional newspapers from Media Regionalne (Gazeta Pomorza, Gazeta Pomorska, Gazeta Bialostocka, Wspolczesna, Poranny Kurier, Gazeta Lubuska, Nowa Trybuna Opolska, Echo Dnia, Dziennik Wschodni Nowiny).

Gremi Grupa
Until October 2011 Presspublica was in part owned by Mecom Group, before Mecom sold its 51 percent stake to the Gremi Grupa. The other 49 percent is owned by the Polish state. Presspublica publishes six daily and weekly newspapers, including the prestigious “Rzeczpospolita” and other titels such as Uwa?am rze, Parkiet, ?ycie Warszawy, Przekrój and Sukces.

The Polish media company Agora publishes two of the best known newspapers – Gazeta Wyborcza, which is still considered to be Poland’s most important medium for political debate, and „Metro“, a free tabloid that ranks as Poland’s second biggest newspaper behind Springer’s „Fakt“. Since 2012, Metro’s online edition has been produced in a joint venture with Microsoft. In 2012, with “Metro” and “Gazeta Wyborcza”, Agora had a market share of 15 percent. In addition, Agora publishes 13 magazine titles, namely Avanti, Logo, Galeria (lifestyle), Cztery Katy, Landy Dom, Magnolia (house and garden), Dziecko, Kuchnia, poradnik (food) as well as Swiat Motocrykli and Kontynenty.

Table I: Poland's Biggest Newspapers



Circulation 2012*


Founded in

Fakt Gazeta Codzienna



Axel Springer Polska



Free tabloid


Agora SA


Echo Miasta

Free daily




Gazeta Wyborcza



Agora SA


Super Express



Murator SA





Gremi Media


Dziennik Gazeta Prawna



Infor Briznes


Nasz Dziennik



100.000 (2009, est.)

"Spes" Spó?ka z o.o.


*Source: Teleskop - Zwiazek Kontroll Dystrybucji Prasy (Annual average)

Table II: Poland's Biggest Opinion Magazines



Circulation 2012*


Founded in

Newsweek Polska



Axel Springer Polska





Verlagshaus Platforma Mediowa Point Group



Weekly newspaper


Polityka Spó?dzielnia Pracy


Uwa?am Rze



Gremi Media (Presspublica)





Gremi Media (Presspublica)


Tygodnik Powszechny


Weekly newspaper


Stiftung: Tygodnik Powszechny


Source: Teleskop - Zwiazek Kontroll Dystrybucji Prasy (Annual average)

Table. III: Circulation of Poland's Top Four Newspaper, 2008-2012 (annual average, in thousands)


Public broadcasting
Poland has an important, albeit financially instable, public broacdasting sector. TVP (Telewizia Polska). This includes its three nationwide terrestrial channels (TVP1, TVP2, and TV Info), 16 regional channels (TV Regionalna) the foreign broadcaster TVP Polonia dedicated to Poles who live in other countries. as well as some cable channels (TVP Belsat, TVP Seriale, Parlament, Kultura, Sport, Historia), consituting a total market share of 35 percent. TVP is financed by both license fees and advertisement revenues. Every Polish citizen – with the exception of the unemployed, retired and handicapped – is obligated by law to pay an annual license fee of 199,80 Zlotys (roughly 45 Euros). However, the TVP group has generated significant losses in the last couple of years because two thirds of all Polish citizens have refused to pay the license fee. In 2011, only one third of Polish households claimed to own a television set. Even among this group only 1,2 million households actually paid the license fee. Therefore, the public broadcasting system stands on  shaky economic ground: in 2011, TVP operated with a budget of 1,757 billion Zlotys while generating only 205,4 million in license fees.

Private television
In December of 1995, TV Polsat became the first privately owned television channel in Poland. Two years prior, a newly established government agency officially started the licensing process for national and local television channels. One of the precious licenses went to Polsat, which in 1992 had already begun to broadcast a Polish language programm out of the Netherlands. Owner Zygmunt Solorz-Zaks is, according to the annual Forbes ranking, one of the riches Polish citizens, with an estimated net worth of roughly two billion Euros. He has transformed Polsat into the country’s biggest privately owned network. Its only rival is the TVN group, founded in 1997. TV Polsat and TVN each control about 15 percent of the television market. The rest of the market is shared among a handful of smaller competitors. In contrast to the press, the television sector is mainly controlled by Polish companies. When, in 2006, German media corporation Axel Springer tried to acquire parts of TV Polsat, the takeover was prohibited by national antitrust bodies.

TV Polsat
By 1996, four years after it went on air, TV Polsat had already reached one quarter of the entire Polish television audience. As of today Polsat has a market share of 15 percent, making it  number two among Polish networks after TVP. TV Polsat airs mainly entertainment programs for the 10-49 year-old demographic and operates more than 15 special interest channels, such as  Polsat 2 International, Polsat News, TV Biznes, Polsat Sport, Polsat Film, Polsat Cafe, Play, JimJam, Polsat Crime, Polsat Food, and the Pay-TV channel Cyfrowy Polsat. In addition, the network owns minority stakes of the channels TV4, TV6 and Superstacia.

TVN has been on air since 1997. The second-biggest network is part of the ITI group, Poland’s first major media company. In contrast to TV Polsat, TVN has a strong focus on information programs. This caters to TVN’s key demographic: more educated and higher-earning Poles. To position itself as a source for quality news, TVN has hired many former TVP-journalists and launched Poland’s first 24-hours news channel, TVN24, which in 2012 had a market share of three percent. Also part of the TVN group are TVN International, TVN CNBC (a joint venture with the US channel CNBC), TVN Style and the sports channel nSport.


Table IV: Gross revenues of radio-television, 2007-2011

Source: European Audiovisual Observatory


Table V: TV primetime market shares in 2011

Source: European Audiovisual Observatory


The Polish radio landscape is dominated by privately operated stations. In 2012, the four national public broadcast radio channels had a combined market share of 21 percent. The ratings for Polskie Radio – with the exception of Radio Trójka – have steadily decreased over the past few years. Shrinking advertising revenues as well as the refusal of many Poles to pay license fees have lead to a weak position of public radio in the country. Just as in the publishing sector, private radio in Poland is being dominated by a German media company, namely the Bauer Media Group.

Polskie Radio
Public radio has a great tradition in Poland. From 1926 on, except during the war years, it has never ceased broadcasting. Besides the national Polske Radio S.A corporation with its four major channels Radio Jedynka (general profile), Radio Dwójka (cultural programs), Radio Trójka (news and information) and Radio Bis (youth channel) there are 17 regional broadcasters as well as Radio Parlment, which airs parliamentary debates.

RMF (Radio Muzyka Fakty) broadcasts music and information programs. Founded in 1990 as Radio Malopolska, it is Poland’s first privately operated radio network. Reaching more than one quarter of all listeners it is the biggest radio group in Poland. RMF is part of the media holding Grupa RMF/Holding Broker FM, which was acquired by the German Bauer Media Group in 2006.

Radio Zet
Controlling 15 percent of the market, Radio Zet is the second most popular channel in Poland. It is owned by the french media corporation Lagardere. Similar to RMF, Zet airs mainly news and information programs. Since 1999 it has partnered with CNN in order to deliver premium news content. Other channels that are operated by owner Eurozet are Chili ZET, Radio Plus, Antyradio, Planet FM, and Studio Zett.

Radio Maryia
Probably the most controversial channel in the last decades has been the fundamentalist-conservative non-profit station Radio Maryia, founded in 1991 by Father Tadeusz Rydzyk. 70 percent of its listeners are older than sixty, which is hardly surprising since Maryia mostly broadcasts prayers and gospels mixed with political commentary and talk shows. Critics argue that Rydzyk has used his channel to foster nationalism and Antisemitic bigotry.

Radio TOK FM
TOK is a 24 hours news channel. It has been on air since 1988 and is broadcasted within ten major cities. Partly because of a successful partnership with the British BBC, TOK is one of the most respected news sources in Poland. TOK is owned by the Polish media company Agora, which also owns the stations Radio Roxy, Radio Z?ote Przeboje,, and Tuba FM. In 2012, TOK FM had a market share of 1,4 percent.

Online media

As in many of its neigboring countries, prior to the mid 1990s, the Polish internet was mainly an academic network. While starting in 1993 some companies started to launch their own homepages, regular citizens hardly used the web before the late 1990s. This changed when the the Polish Telecom began to offer cheap unlimited broadband rates. As a result of massive investments by the European Union in the expansion of broadband access – especially in poorer regions in East Poland – more than half of all Polish citizens are online today (out of people over sixty years of age, however, only ten percent are internet users). The number of smart phones has skyrocketed between 2010 and 2012 from one to five million.

As in many European countries, Google is dominating the online market in Poland. With its search engine as well as the video and blogging portals YouTube and Blogspot, the company controls three of the biggest online properties in Poland. Another major player is the South African media company Naspers, which in the wake of acquiring the Polish Grupa Allegro in 2008, now owns several popular E-commerce sites. The market for online news media, however, is in the hands of Polish companies., the biggest news site, is part of the ITI group, which also owns the TVN television network (see table III).

Table III: The Most Popular Websites of 2012




Owned by


Google Polska

Search engine

Google Inc



Social network

Facebook Inc


Google International

Searche engine

Google Inc




Google Inc



Online auctions




ITI Group


Wirtualna Polska

Portal, email

Wirtualna Polska SA



Agora SA




Wikimedia Foundation


Portal, Email

Bauer Media Group



Google Inc







Telefónica Europe



File hosting

FS File Solutions Limited



Movie portal



Car sales




Carreer network

Agora SA



Price guide



Sport w

Sports news

Agora SA



Telefónica Europe



Article 14 of the Polish constitution from 1997 states the freedom of the press and communications. Article 54 grants the freedom of opinion and prohibits any kind of censorship or influence upon the press by state actors.
The most important body concerned with regulating the media sector is the Krajowa Rada Radiofonii i Telewizji (KRRit), which is responsible for the controlling and licensing of television channels. Out of the five members of the KRRiT council, one is elected by members of the Senate, two are elected by members of the Sejm, the lower house, and another two are appointed by the President. While in theory the KRRiT is an independent agency, there have been frequent accusations that it really represents the interests of the political parties that elects its members.

The legal framework for regulating the television landscape is the Broadcasting Act of 1992, which in 2004 was modified according to guidelines set out by the European Union. According to the law, both public broadcasting as well as privately owned channels should have a focus on information and entertainment, educate its viewers and foster respect for Polish national culture. In theory, all content should represent Christian values and shine light on social and public grievances. Also the Broadcasting Act lays out the rules regarding the on-air-time that each political party receives in news programs. According to the Television Without Frontiers initiative, the protection of minorities and the access of European media companies to the Polish market were added the Broadcasting Act in 2004.


  • Ania Lara, The Polish Media Landscape in Georgios Terzis (ed.) European Media Governance. National and Region Dimensions, 2007, 399-411.
  • Polen-Analysen Nr. 50, 21.04.2009. Deutsches Polen Institut, Forschungsstelle Osteuropa (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde e.V.)
  • Ryszard Filas & Pawel Planeta, Das Mediensystem Polens. In: Hans-Bredow-Institut (Hrsg.): Internationales Handbuch Medien 2009. Mediensysteme in Europa, 2009, 518-540.


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