Slovakia. The controversial Public Media Act was adopted. The opposition left the room

A majority of the Slovak parliament has passed a controversial bill to abolish public media, Radio and TV of Slovakia (RTVS). The opposition left the meeting room without taking part in the vote. For years, Slovak public television has been considered the country’s most reliable source of information. The plan for changes in the media raises opposition from Slovaks. Many anti-government demonstrations took place in the streets of Bratislava.

On Thursday evening, a majority of members of Slovakia’s ruling parliament voted on a controversial bill to abolish the public broadcaster Radio i TV Slovakia (RTVS). The opposition left the room, believing the government was trying to take control of the public broadcaster.

Employees of the disbanded company protested in front of the Parliament building. After the debate and before the vote, the opposition left the room.

Slovak Television and Radio (STVR) is to be established in place of the dismantled structure.

Culture Minister Martina Szimkoviczova justified the bill to members of parliament, saying RTVS was gradually losing objectivity and lacked a balance of opinion.

Also read: “Slovakia is where distrust serves as a political compass”

Protest on May 2 Radovan Stoklasa/Forum

Dissolution of public media in Slovakia

The STVR law, like changes to the Slovak criminal code, is one of the measures taken by Robert Figo’s government that has caused strong conflict between the ruling coalition and the opposition.

The proposed changes in public media have repeatedly sparked anti-government protests. On Thursday afternoon, a protest march by journalists and RTVS employees moved from the radio headquarters to the Parliament building.

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The opposition points to the RTVS law as the beginning of a process to “regulate” the media market, and warns that private media could lose their independence, as in Hungary. Mentioned in this context is the largest private television station – Markisa, where a dispute broke out between the journalists and the management of the press and information editorial office. According to Slovak media, the editors of the popular daily “Pravta” are also complaining about management interference in their work.

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plans to abolish public broadcasting

On April 24 this year, the Slovak government approved a controversial media law drafted by the Ministry of Culture. It envisages that the existing public broadcaster Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS) will be replaced by a new entity with the name Slovak Television and Radio (STVR).

For years, Slovak public television has been considered the country’s most reliable source of information. At the same time, it is often criticized by the ruling coalition, which argues that the media is biased. Martina Simkovicov√°, head of the Ministry of Culture from the ultranationalist Slovak National Party, says the public broadcaster’s news programs are “an addition to the ideological and political pressure of private media operating in the Slovak media market”.

Expert opinion

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

Kicilovski said that 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 Figo and his government.” – It must be admitted that the initial situation is completely different than in Hungary, for example, where it was already completely taken over by Viktor Orban’s allies. However, there is a situation here where the media, especially the written media, is critical of the government and Fico wants to change that, he opined.

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See also: Media freedom concerns in Slovakia

“According to opposition parties and analysts who are critical of the plan, it will clearly allow the government to control the public media,” Medek pointed out. – Justifying these changes, Prime Minister Fico directly stated that the public media in Slovakia are in conflict with the government and cannot be objective – the journalist added.

Main photo source: Radovan Stoklasa/Forum

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