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The End of Press Censorship

A key element of the Round Table Agreement was the end of the communist monopoly of the news media. In April 1990, state censorship was abolished. The PZPR publishing and distribution monopoly, the Workers' Publication Cooperative Press-Book- Movement began to break up, and numerous communist-era periodicals were privatized. Some periodical titles, such as the daily Rzeczpospolita (Republic) and the weekly Polityka(Politics), were recast and gained respect for the quality of their journalism. Others, most notably the official party organ Trybuna Ludu (People's Tribune), changed their names but continued to represent a leftist political viewpoint (Trybuna Ludu became simply Trybuna). Many familiar communist ideological publications were discontinued, however. After mid-1989, hundreds of new periodicals appeared, failed, reappeared, and failed again. These failures were the result of the high cost of newsprint, ignorance of free-market business principles, and the unpredictable demand created by a newly liberated reading public.

As of mid-1992, nearly 1,000 Polish periodicals were being published. Among these were seventy-five daily and 164 weekly newspapers. The left-of-center Gazeta Wyborcza (Election Gazette), with a circulation of 550,000 weekday copies and more than 850,000 weekend copies, was the most widely read newspaper. Gazeta Wyborcza, issued in thirteen local editions, resembled Western papers in its layout and extensive commercial advertising. Rzeczpospolit claimed roughly 250,000 readers, followed closely by Zycie Warszawy (Warsaw Life). Of the national political weeklies, Polityka and Wprost (Straightforward) enjoyed the greatest success, with circulations of 350,000 and 250,000, respectively.

In the years following the Round Table Agreement, the Polish press presented a range of opinion that reflected the increasingly fractured political landscape. Following the schism between Mazowiecki and Walesa forces in 1990, Tygodnik Solidarnosc became the mouthpiece of the pro-Walesa Center Alliance, while Michnik's Gazeta Wyborcza and the Catholic church's Tygodnik Powszechny supported the Mazowiecki faction.

Data as of October 1992