Media Slovakia

Thousands protest Fico’s media law in Slovakia

| 2024-03-16 < 1 min read

Thousands protest Fico’s media law in Slovakia

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Thousands protested at Freedom Square, Bratislava, over Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico’s plan to overhaul the country’s state media, on Friday, 15 March.

According to the plan, state media body Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS) would be scrapped and a seven-member government-nominated council could hire and fire its director, although the incumbent is mandated until 2027. 

Speaking at the protest, opposition party Progressive Slovakia MP Zora Jaurova warned that the reforms would make state media outlets “a bugle for government propaganda”.

The pro-Russian, populist Fico government claims that the current broadcaster is biased and only broadcasts mainstream views, something that its employees have publicly denied.

Slovak journalists said in joint statement signed by hundreds that the move on RTVS is “part of Fico’s major attack on all free media.

Head of state slams plan as interference

Slovak President Zuzana Caputova warned that the bill contravenes the new European media freedom law and could allow the Fico administration to control public media, and also expressed concerns regarding the proposed council’s power to intervene on state media issues.

She wrote on Facebook: “the aforementioned EU regulation adjusts mechanisms to ensure the independence and impartiality of public media, for example, by removing the director of such an institution only for legal reasons. 

“Member states should respect editorial freedom and independence of media service providers and by creating national regulatory bodies, not to interfere with editorial policies and editorial decisions or seek to influence them,” she added.

Other moves by Fico, who regained power after winning the Slovak national elections in September, include a plan to cut punishments for corruption, which could benefit several MPs and public figures linked to Fico.