Monday, March 21, 2011

Listen to Polish music!

The Polish government is not content to forget about reform in order to reverse previous ones or focus on big issues like ensuring beer can be sold in stadiums. Now it wants to ensure everyone in Poland listens to more Polish music.

So listen up all those in Poland. A proposed amendment to media legislation would command that 60% of all music on radio stations is in Polish between 05:00 and 24:00. Yes, 60%! The current threshold is 33% but with no time guidance.

The Culture Ministry believes the restrictions will encourage Polish music as there will be nothing else that can be played. I think the Communists also believed restrictions on 'evil' Western music would encourage the formation of Homo Sovieticus. That I'm writing this in a free Warsaw shows how well that worked.

And there's no doubt the restrictions will not lead to better Polish music, but will rather undermine the existing radio stations. Instead of listening to radio that adds a lot of mediocre Polish music to the excellent Polish music that already exists, people will turn to the internet or satellite radio or to anywhere where they can hear what they want.

In fact, one might think a Poland that is the perfect 'poster' country for liberation from totalitarian regimes might pause in proposing harsh restrictions. This is especially so since the Civic Platform (PO), which leads the government, is full of former dissidents and those who actively fought against Communism.

But the tendency to restrict seems to be a worrying trend for the PO-led government. Trying to tell people what to listen to is just a further departure from its previous liberal roots. I think Prime Ministry Donald Tusk should do some listening of his own, that is, to some of his old speeches to rediscover his prior faith in an energetic, intelligent diverse Poland that does not need a paternalistic state telling it what to do.

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