Media reform in Slovakia: Parliament votes for broadcast restructuring

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Written By Maya Cantina

The government in Bratislava gained a parliamentary majority because of its controversial media reform. The opposition boycotted the meeting.

People hold signs with Slovak inscriptions

Tens of thousands of people protest in Bratislava during an anti-government demonstration, March 15, 2024 Photo: Jaroslav Novak/tasr/dpa

AP | The Slovak parliament voted on Thursday in favor of the government’s plans to restructure the public media. In the 150-seat National Council, 78 members of the governing coalition voted in favor of the project. Opposition MPs stayed away from the meeting in protest.

Prime Minister Robert Fico said the changes were necessary because radio and television were biased and “in conflict with the Slovak government.” Fico is still at home recovering from an assassination attempt in mid-May.

According to the plan of Minister of Culture Martina Šimkovičová, the broadcaster RTVS will be dissolved and replaced by a new organization. A new seven-member board, made up of members nominated by the government and parliament, will select the organization’s director, although the current directorship runs until 2027. The council should be given the right to dismiss the director without giving reasons.

RTVS employees protested in front of parliament against the reform. Opposition MP Zora Jaurova said during the parliamentary debate that the government is only concerned with “getting rid of and taking over the current general manager and management.”

Culture Minister Šimkovičová belongs to the ultranationalist Slovak National Party and has in the past worked for an internet television channel known for spreading disinformation. Your party represents pro-Russian positions. Critics fear that Slovakia under Fico will follow a similar course to Hungary under populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

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