Polish ruling party loses majority amid rift over media bill

 Poland's ruling right-wing party lost its parliamentary majority Wednesday after a small coalition partner announced that it was leaving amid a rift over legislation it views as an attack on media freedom.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki kicked the head of the Agreement party, Jaroslaw Gowin, a deputy prime minister, out of the government on Tuesday.

Gowin's party said Wednesday that it was formally leaving the governing coalition, meaning that the right-wing ruling party, Law and Justice, has lost its slim majority in parliament.

A vote was expected later Wednesday on the bill at the center of the dispute, which would prevent non-European owners from having controlling stakes in Polish media companies.

The legislation is widely viewed as a effort to silence an independent, US-owned television broadcaster that is critical of the government.

It would push American company Discovery Inc. to sell its controlling stake in TVN, a network with many channels that operates Poland's all-news station TVN24 and has a flagship evening news programme watched daily by millions.

Law and Justice appeared poised to pick up some votes from opposition lawmakers, including some from Confederation, a small party made up of libertarian and nationalist politicians.

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