15 May 2020: Polish public radio Polish Radio 3 was accused of censoring a song “Your Pain is Better than Mine” / “Twój ból jest lepszy niż mój,” which is criticising the government and was created by Kazik Staszewski, reported ABC News.
The song was voted number one on the Polish Radio 3 Hit List on 15 May but was later removed from the radio station’s website.
The song “Your Pain is Better than Mine” can be understood as a criticism of the head of Poland’s ruling nationalist party Law and Justice (PIS), Jarosław Kaczyński. Kazik’s song is about grieving during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Kazik never mentions Kaczyński’s name in the lyrics of the song. BBC reports, that the target of the song seems to be clear. When it was forbidden to visit cemeteries in Poland, Kaczyński visited the grave of his mother and the graves of victims of an air disaster in Smolensk. Jarosław Kaczyński’s twin brother, then-President Lech Kaczyński, was killed in the air crash.
The President of Polish Radio Agnieszka Kamińska said that censorship accusations are not true.
“During the digital vote, a song was introduced from outside the list and there was an interference with the order of the songs. As a result, the final result did not reflect the votes of the listeners”, Kamińska said the statement. “At the moment we will check whether this occurred as a result of an IT error or whether it was external interference.
Polish radio reinstated the voting for Kazik’s song in its chart on 18 May.
Kazik, however, said in the statement published on his band’s Facebook account that he requested Polish Radio to “withdraw Kazik’s song ‘Your pain is better than mine’ from the listings of the Third Program Charts.”
Polish Radio actions resulted in many artists supporting Kazik and requesting to stop playing their songs on Polish Radio 3.
“If on today’s PR3, politics is more important than music, if the song brings back the worst communist practices that I only know from books and stories, I think my songs shouldn’t be played on that air until creative freedom of speech returns to the waves of Three,” said Dawid Podsiadło, polish singer and songwriter in his statement published on Facebook.
Niedźwiecki’s resignation was widely covered by media.
“The legendary “Bear” [Niedźwiecki] worked in the Radio Three from April 5, 1982.”
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– Marek Niedźwiecki jest kolejną osobą, która dzisiaj odeszła z Trójki. Nasza Trójka już nie istnieje – napisał w sobotę wieczorem na Facebooku kompozytor Zbigniew Preisner. Legendarny "Niedźwiedź" pracował w radiowej Trójce od 5 kwietnia 1982 r. #marekniedźwiecki #niedzwiedzki #radionowyświat #radionowyswiat #media #radio #radiowiec #Niedzwiedz #polskieradio #wolnemedia #namniejestwszystkojedno #wyborcza
Freemuse’s report on Security, Creativity, Tolerance and their Co-existence: The New European Agenda on Freedom of Artistic Expression highlights how the Polish government’s interventions in the cultural sector contravene several articles in its own Constitution. In a statement following her visit to Poland in September 2018, UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights referred to members of the ruling party criticising directors in the media, at times leading to dismissals, as creating a climate of self-censorship and coercing some cultural leaders to leave the country. This situation, she concludes, is having a negative impact on the right to artistic freedom.