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Slovakia votes for broadcasting restructuring

The Slovak parliament has voted to restructure the country's public media. The broadcaster RTVS is now to be dissolved – and a replacement will follow. Critics see this as a takeover by the government.

In Slovakia, parliament has approved the dissolution of the public broadcaster RTVS. The vote was preceded by months of protests by opposition parties and RTVS employees. In the end, all 78 MPs from the three social democratic and nationalist government parties voted for the controversial law. The opposition MPs, however, left the chamber in protest and boycotted the vote.

Prime Minister Robert Fico said the changes were necessary because radio and television were biased and “in conflict with the Slovak government.” The nationalist culture minister Martina Simkovicova had also repeatedly criticized RTVS's reporting as biased against her.

Station leadership likely to be removed

However, both politicians were unable to remove the general director and his team, who had been elected by a previous parliamentary majority for a term of office until 2027. The reason for this was the existing legal situation. With the formal dissolution of the broadcaster, this obstacle is removed. RTVS is to be replaced by a new broadcaster called STVR from July 1st. A new management could then also be appointed.

According to the culture minister's plans, a new seven-member council will select the organization's director. The members will be nominated by the government and parliament. The council will also have the right to dismiss the director without giving reasons.

Critics see government influence

RTVS employees protested against the reform in front of parliament. Opposition MP Zora Jaurova said during the parliamentary debate that the government's only goal was to “get rid of the current general director and management and take it over.” Critics have been accusing the government for months of wanting to replace the broadcaster with a compliant mouthpiece.

Tens of thousands of people repeatedly responded to the opposition's calls for protest in the first few months of the year. However, after the opposition's defeat in the presidential election at the beginning of April and an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Fico on May 15, the protest movement waned. Most recently, only a few hundred people took to the streets in Bratislava on Tuesday to protest against the government and its media plans.

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