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Slovak government wants to close broadcaster

The Slovak government accuses the public broadcaster RTVS of being politically biased. Therefore, she now wants to dissolve and replace them. There is criticism of the reform from many quarters.

The Slovak government has decided to reform the public broadcasting and television system. The broadcaster RTVS will then be dissolved and replaced by a new company called STVR. The three-party government under left-wing populist Prime Minister Robert Fico accepted the controversial legislative proposal from nationalist Culture Minister Martina Simkovicova.

Opposition politicians and journalists critical of the government have been accusing the coalition for weeks of wanting to replace the media outlet, which surveys have rated as objective and trustworthy, with a compliant government propaganda station. International media organizations and the EU Commission are also criticizing the plans. Several non-governmental organizations announced letters to the EU to get help from Brussels against the government's plans.

Thousands of people took part in a demonstration on Freedom Square in Bratislava in mid-March. The rally participants carried banners with inscriptions such as “We will not give away RTVS!”. Caricatures and insulting slogans against Culture Minister Martina Simkovicova were also shown.

Thousands protested against the plans

As early as mid-March, thousands of people in the two largest cities of Bratislava and Kosice protested against the threatened dissolution of RTVS. President Zuzana Caputova, whose term ends in June, also criticized the plan.

Fico, on the other hand, said the reform was necessary because RTVS was politically biased and “in conflict with the Slovak government.” Culture Minister Simkovicova accuses RTVS of only giving space to mainstream opinions and censoring the rest. The broadcaster rejects this.

The European Broadcasting Union EBU, which includes RTVS as well as the German broadcasters ARD and ZDF, also criticized the Slovak government's plans to dissolve it as a threat to the medium's independence.

Parliament still has to agree

However, the government was unable to remove the RTVS general director and his team, who were elected for a term of office until 2027, due to the existing legal situation. The government wants to get around this obstacle by simply dissolving RTVS with its new law and replacing it with a new broadcaster called STVR. The Director shall be elected by a Council consisting of nine members. The council members should be appointed by the Ministry of Culture and Parliament.

Only parliament, in which the government parties have a sufficient majority, can make the final decision. Fico told the TASR news agency that he expects a decision from parliament in June.

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