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Polish Regulators Renew License for Discovery-Owned Channel

FILE - A general view of a studio of Discovery-owned television channel TVN24 is seen in Warsaw, Poland, July 29, 2021.

Poland's broadcasting regulators extended the license of Discovery Inc.-owned TVN24 at the last moment Wednesday but also adopted a resolution to pressure the American company to sell its majority stake in the TV news channel, which airs coverage that is critical of Poland's government.

The National Broadcasting Council, known by the Polish acronym KRRiT, had delayed the renewal of TVN24's license for almost two years. The independent television channel is watched by millions of people daily in Poland. Its current license expires on Sunday.

Discovery said the news of the extensions was "bittersweet" because it showed there has been no reason to delay or deny the extension renewal.

It said in a statement that the regulator's resolution is a reason for concern and "undermines the democratic legislative process itself."

"The rule of law, freedom of the press and stability for foreign investments are still very much at risk" in Poland, Discovery said.

Poland's governing Law and Justice party has at times denounced the TVN24 channel. It is also trying to push a law through parliament to ban non-European ownership of broadcasters, a move viewed as an effort to curb media freedom in Poland. However, the party cannot be sure of winning enough votes for the law.

Before extending TVN24's license, the council unanimously adopted a resolution stating that says owners from outside Europe cannot hold more than a 49% stake in radio or TV stations in Poland.

The resolution is seen as a step intended to force Discovery to sell majority of its stake in TVN24 and its sister channels in Poland, without the need for the controversial law to be adopted.

The leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has repeatedly said he wants Poland's media to be controlled by Polish owners.

Since it came to power in 2015, the party has turned state-owned station TVP into its mouthpiece.