Polish state television and radio today acquired its third boss in less than a month, reflecting the deep change in the style and functioning of the Polish media since striking workers demanded more openness as one of their conditions for returning to their jobs.
The changes began with the dismissal last month of Maciej Szczepanski, 52, a close friend of the former Polish leader Edward Gierek, who ran the television service as his personal fief and imposed rigid orthodoxy on all programs. He is now under investigation by the public prosecutor on charges of embezzlement, bribery, and moral depravity.
The man originally chosen to replace Szczepanski was Jozef Barecki, the former editor of the Communist Party newspaper Trybuna Ludu. Barecki appears to have been overwhelmed by the mess left behind and has now resigned to take on the less taxing job of government spokesman.
During his brief tenure of office, he managed to bring a different tone to Polish broadcasting, axing several of his predecessor's cherished propaganda programs. He also abolished some of the privileges instituted under Szczepanski, including the reservation of a special elevator for personal use. s
Barecki's replacement as head of television is Zdzislaw Balicki, 50, formerly editor of the Wroclaw provincial newspaper, which has the reputation of being one of the most interesting in the country. His main tasks will be to restore staff morale following eight years of Szczepanski's idiosyncratic leadership, while keeping the desire for creative freedom within the limits set by the Communist Party.
As a result of the changes, Polish television has begun showing a series of films that had been held up for years by the censor because of their critical content.
On Wednesday evening, for example, there was the first television screening of Janusz Kondrakiuk's "A Small Matter" which was originally produced in 1975. The plot deals with the frantic efforts by the management of a factory to put on a false show for an important politician.
The elaborate charade, designed to hide the fact that the factory is almost falling to pieces and planned targets are far from being met, is maintained right to the end, until a disgruntled worker breaks through the cordon and whispers in the guest's ear, "Excuse me, I have a small matter to raise with you."
The satirical touch is light throughout, but even so the film was unacceptable under Szczepanski's regime.
Later in the evening television showed what was billed as the first of a new series of discussions entitled "Speaking the Truth" the conversation, which concerned "the nature of the Poles," was uninhibited -- and angry words were heard from the participants who included university professors, journalists, and writers.
Like other Polish workers, radio and television employees have pressed for independent unions to represent their professional interests. Their old union has formally renounced its affiliation in the party-dominated Central Council of Trade Unions.
Journalists too are in the process of reforming their professional association. A special congress of the journalists' association will be held in Warsaw at the end of next month, and it is likely that a new and more radical leadership will be elected.
This evening's television news showed brief clips from the first official press conference given by Lech Walesa, leader of the independent unions. But the report was well down in the news program, and many of Walesa's statements had been edited to make them more bland.
Meanwhile, a right-wing dissident, Lezek Moczulski, whose views have been disowned by other dissident groups, has been arrested and charged with anti-state propaganda because of an interview he gave to the West German news magazine Der Spiegel. Moczulski, who leads a group called the Confederation for an Independent Poland, was shown on television calling for the liquidation of the communist regime.
Moczulski's arrest reflects the delicate tightrope the government is treading -- tolerating a form of opposition in the independent unions while seeking to reassure the Soviet Union by cracking down on "anti-socialist forces."