The public media reform planned by the Slovak government has caused sharp criticism / Article

The public media reform planned by the Slovak government has caused sharp criticism / Article
The public media reform planned by the Slovak government has caused sharp criticism / Article

The Prime Minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico, believes that currently the public media is unable to objectively present information. On the other hand, critics of the bill fear that the government wants to secure complete control over the broadcaster.

Will change name and management

The most visible change will be a new name for the public media. Currently, it is called Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS), but in the future it will be called Slovak Television and Radio (STVR).

Culture Minister Martina Šimkovičová explained that the inclusion of the word “Slovak” in the broadcaster’s new name will emphasize the “unmistakable national character” of the medium.

According to the bill, STVR will be obliged to play the Slovak national anthem once every day between 11:00 PM and 12:30 AM on both radio and television channels.

The draft law approved by the government provides for a new procedure for selecting the general director of public media. If until now the head of the public broadcasting organization was appointed by the parliament, then in the future it will be done by a council created for this purpose, which will consist of nine members. Four of them will be appointed by the Ministry of Culture, and five will be selected by the parliament. This commission will also have the right to dismiss the head of the public media.

The Prime Minister has pledged to “sort out” the media

Slovak Prime Minister Fico said after the approval of the bill that he was pleased with the creation of a new media because the current public broadcaster was said to be biased against his government.

“Television and radio cannot be objective because they have a dispute with the government of the Slovak Republic. The fundamental right of the citizens of the Slovak Republic to objective information is being violated.

The voters of the ruling coalition have made it very clear: fix Slovakian TV and radio, because it is impossible to watch and listen to. So we are simply responding to this demand.

We are responding by advancing a bill that will allow this institution to be put in order,” Fico said.

Minister of Culture Šimkovićova also supported the Prime Minister, under whose leadership the drafting of the bill took place. The politician representing the far-right Slovak National Party stated that changes in the public media will help prevent “political activism” rooted there.

Before entering politics, Šimković worked for a private media outlet that Slovak disinformation experts have accused of spreading pro-Kremlin lies and conspiracies.

The bill will be submitted to the parliament for consideration in the near future. Fico expressed hope that lawmakers would approve it by the end of June. Since his three-party coalition has 79 seats in the 150-member parliament, it can be predicted that the bill will be passed.

The Fico government needs a propaganda tool

The term of office of the current general director of the public media, Ljubos Mahaj, should end only in 2027, but he will have to leave his post with the creation of the new broadcasting organization. It is very likely that the employment contracts of some public media journalists will not be extended.

Mahaj believes that the Fico government wants to seize the public media and essentially make it its propaganda tool.

“In our opinion, all the changes proposed in the draft law can be made with amendments, so there is no need to destroy the organization. There is no reason to destroy the organization, if only to purposefully get rid of the management of RTVS. I am sure of this and I really have no evidence that we are not objective,” said Mahaj.

The changes proposed by Fico have been criticized in the public media by journalists, opposition politicians, non-governmental organizations and also the European Commission.

The international press freedom organization “Reporters Without Borders” has stated that the Slovak government is trying to undermine the independence of the public media, while the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has indicated that the Slovak government is trying to turn the public broadcaster into a state-controlled media.

The article is in Latvian

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