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Polish pay TV providers slam government plan to levy licence fee

The Polish government has unveiled controversial proposals to collect TV licence fee payments using the subscription databases of cable and satellite DTH providers.

New legislation, expected to reach parliament within the next couple of months, calls for cable and other digital TV platform operators to pass their customer data to Poczcie Polskiej, the country’s national postal service.

The plan calls for viewers to be able to register to pay the fee through their cable or pay TV provider.

Pay TV providers are likely to face a penalty for failing to provide the relevant data.

Pay TV providers immediately condemned the plan. Leading DTH pay TV provider Cyfrowy Polsat said that it had long supported the principle of enforcing licence fee payment as an alternative to allowing the country’s public broadcaster, TVP, from airing advertising in competition with commercial broadcasters. However, it said, the state authorities already had a relevant database that could serve as the basis for better enforcement of the licence fee.

It said that the plan to enforce collection through pay TV providers’ personal data was incompatible with the constitutional principle of the equality of citizens before the law, and that the disclosure of personal data violated their consumer rights and right to privacy.

The Polish government is reportedly also mulling the longer term replacement of the licence fee with a direct tax.