Slovakia.  Adoption of the controversial public media law.  The opposition left the room

The Slovak parliamentary majority has passed a controversial bill eliminating the public media outlet known as Radio Television Slovakia (RTVS). The opposition did not participate in the vote and left the meeting hall. For many years, Slovak public television has been considered the most reliable source of information in the country. Project changes in the media arouse opposition from Slovaks. Many anti-government demonstrations took place in the streets of Bratislava.

On Thursday evening, members of Slovakia’s ruling parliamentary majority voted on a controversial bill to remove the public media outlet known as Radio i TV Slovakia (RTVS). The opposition, who believed the government was trying to control public broadcasters, left the room.

Employees of the refinery corporation protested in front of the Parliament building. The opposition left the chamber after the discussion and before the vote, and its assessment of the situation was shared by the strike committee composed of RTVS employees and collaborators.

The Slovak Broadcasting Corporation (STVR) is planned to be established in the place of the liquidated structure.

Culture Minister Martina Zemkovićová, in justifying the bill to parliamentarians, claimed that RTVS is gradually losing its objectivity and lacks a balance of opinions.

Read also: “Slovakia is in a place where mistrust serves as a political compass”

Protest on May 2 Radovan Stoklasa/Forum

Filtering public media in Slovakia

The STVR law, like the changes to the Slovak Criminal Code, is one of the steps taken by Robert Fico’s government that caused a strong conflict between the ruling coalition and the opposition.

The draft changes to public media also sparked frequent anti-government demonstrations. On Thursday afternoon, a protest march by journalists and radio and television employees began from the radio headquarters to the Parliament building.

The opposition points out that the RTVS law is the beginning of the process of “regulating” the media market, and warns that private media, as in Hungary, may also lose their independence. In this context, mention is made of the largest private television station – Marchesa, where a dispute occurred between journalists and the management of the editorial board of Press and Media. According to Slovak media, editors of the popular daily newspaper Pravda also complain of management interference in their work.

Nowakowski: Slovak politics is full of bad feelingstvn24

Plans to dissolve public radio

On April 24 of this year, the Slovak government approved a controversial media bill prepared by the Ministry of Culture. It is envisaged that the current public broadcaster, Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS), will be replaced by a new entity with a similar name – Television and Radio of Slovakia (STVR) – which will also involve a change in the management of both broadcasters.

For many years, Slovak public television has been considered the most reliable source of information in the country. At the same time, it is often criticized by the ruling coalition, which says this method is biased. The head of the Ministry of Culture, Martina Zemkovičová, who belongs to the extreme Slovak National Party, claims that public radio’s news programs have become “merely an addition to the ideological and political pressure exerted by private media operating in the Slovak media market.”

Expert commentary

The media situation in Slovakia and the protests involving thousands of people were discussed on TVN24 BiS by Professor Maciej Keselowski from Central European University in Vienna and Jakub Medek from TOK FM.

With the changes in the media, the government “definitely wants to change the dynamics of the media market in Slovakia, which is very critical of Robert Fico and his government,” Keselowski said. – It must be admitted that the initial situation is very different from what was the case in Hungary, for example, where Viktor Orbán’s allies have already completely captured it. “However, here we have a situation where the media, especially the print media, are critical of the government and Fico wants to change that,” he commented.

See also: Concerns about media independence in Slovakia

“According to the opposition and analysts critical of this project, it is clear that it will allow the government to control public media,” Medic noted. The journalist added: – In justifying these changes, Prime Minister Fico directly said that the public media in Slovakia is currently in conflict with the government and cannot be objective.

Main image source: Radovan Stoklasa/Forum

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