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Government Opposes Giving Opposition Television And Radio Access

February 17, 1989

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ The government may allow the outlawed Solidarity trade union to publish its own newspaper but is fiercely opposed to giving government critics access to the airwaves, an opposition figure said Friday.

″On the one hand the government did not protest when we (Solidarity) spoke about the newspaper and agreed to discuss censorship, but they defended access to radio and television like lions,″ said Krzystof Kozlowski, an opposition leader taking part in the historic talks with the government.

The talks, which began Feb. 6, are intended to negotiate terms for legalizing Solidarity and to seek common ground on economic and political reforms. Kozlowski is part of a group discussing media freedoms.

Solidarity, the first independent union movement in the Soviet bloc, was outlawed after martial law was imposed in 1981.

The government controls access to radio and television, and only people invited by media authorities can take part in programs.

″The answer was that the government won’t give up integrity of radio and television, it won’t lease even a part of a program. The government won’t let the radio and television out of its hands,″ said Kozlowski, an editor of the respected Roman Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny.

The opposition also wants a share of low-priced newsprint that is now rationed by the government and the possibility to sell opposition publications at state-run newsstands.

Authorities indicated that legalizing Solidarity newspapers would be possible if the union is legalized.

″If in Poland there is a legal functioning Solidarity or Rural Solidarity or any sort of organization, it should have the right to legalize its papers,″ said Bohdan Jachacz, president of the Polish Press Agency, PAP, presenting the government’s position at a news conference.

He also argued that the state-controlled media would be objective in presenting the views of different legal groups.

Television and radio during the so-called round-table talks have covered all views ″broadly and frankly,″ Jachacz said. ″I think it will continue beyond the time of the round table, continue as a regular, permanent practice.″

Jachacz said the two sides were closer to agreement on eliminating ″preventative censorship,″ in which articles are presented for approval by a censor before they appear in print.

A working group on agricultural reform and another on mining problems also met on Friday.

Also Friday, students in four cities demonstrated to demand the legalization of the banned Independent Students’ Association, PAP said.

In Warsaw, about 200 students marched from the university to the Council of Ministers building where round-table talks on economic and political reform are being held, opposition spokesman Robert Bogdanski said.

The students hung a banner next to university gates saying, ″There is no freedom without Solidarity.″ Police did not intervene, he said.

The student group was banned in the aftermath of the martial law crackdown in December 1981 that also crushed Solidarity.

Police also detained six students in during a protest by about 500 university students in Krakow’s central square against political indoctrination in schools, he said.

Later about 100 students occupied a high school where Education Minister Jacek Fisiak was visiting and said they would not leave until the students were released, he said.

Authorities later freed the students, Krakow opposition spokesman Zygmunt Lenyk said.

Students also demonstrated in the western city of Poznan and the eastern city of Bialystok, PAP said.

Representatives of the group are participating in a working group on youth that forms part of the round-table negotiations.

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