The fine was ordered by Poland's National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT), which regulates the broadcast media. It said TVN24 "promoted illegal actions" and "encouraged behaviour threatening the country's security" in its coverage of anti-government demonstrations in December 2016, when it showed opposition leaders urging the population to participate in the protests.
The Polish opposition has described the huge fine as a violation of media freedom and as a new attempt to gag an independent media outlet. The TV channel, which has been controlled by US media company Scripps Networks Interactive since March 2015, has said it plans to appeal.
"We condemn this very disturbing decision by the KRRiT, an entity created by the current government and subservient to the ruling Law and Justice party, because it is clearly designed to gag a media outlet opposed to the government," said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF's EU-Balkans desk.
Poland is ranked 54th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index, seven places lower than in the 2016 index, in which it suffered a spectacular 29-place fall.