WARSAW, Oct 16 (Reuters) Poland's opposition accused state media today of favouring the ruling Kaczynski twins in the run-up to an election after official figures showed their party was getting far more air time than rivals.
Opponents say the Kaczynskis' socially conservative Law and Justice party has politicised the public broadcaster to a degree not seen since the fall of communism.
''This is a body that has its roots in the communist Poland and every new government quickly turns it into its own marketing tool,'' said Julia Pitera, a leader of the main opposition Civic Platform, a centre-right party seeking faster economic reform.
''This is unacceptable, especially since we all pay a licence fee. Nobody likes over-the-top propaganda.'' In the first week of October, the two state television stations, Poland's most watched channels, gave nearly 17 hours of air time to Law and Justice, just over 6 hours to the Civic Platform and 5 hours to the leftist bloc, official figures showed.
Private channels get fewer viewers.
''It's important to note that appearances by the prime minister and government officials are included in the party's air time even though a large number of their appearances are related to their official functions,'' said a spokeswoman for public television.
A government spokesman declined to comment.
The EU member country of 38 million holds a parliamentary election on Sunday in which the ruling party of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his brother Lech, the president, is almost level in opinion polls with the Civic Platform.
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which will monitor the Polish election, said it would look into complaints of unfair coverage.
One complaint came from Tomasz Borysiuk, a member of the watchdog National Council of Radio Broadcasting and Television, who was appointed at the behest of an opposition party.
''Some politicians think that because they run the government they have the right to run public television as they see fit,'' Borysiuk said.
In addition to the differences in airtime, critics accuse public television of presenting the Kaczynskis in a favourable light and minimising positive cover of the opposition.
The Dziennik daily said yesterday that an anchor for the state television's main newscast lost her job after she insisted that the programme show a video clip of a visit by the leader of the Civic Platform to Britain and Ireland.
REUTERS GL HT1702