The parliamentary culture and media committee on Thursday passed a resolution urging the interim government to continue to adopt legislation leading to an improvement in the media environment and, in particular, to an increased protection of journalists. The committee on Thursday continued a session from February 28 that was convened in reaction to verbal attacks on Marta Janckarova, a journalist of the public-service broadcaster RTVS.
The committee condemned all verbal attacks on journalists. "Politicians and leaders of political parties in particular should not incite hatred in society and make journalists the targets of verbal or even physical attacks," reads the resolution.
MPs from the committee also called on interim Justice Minister Viliam Karas to strengthen journalists' protection in a Penal Code amendment that is being prepared and to adhere to the timeline of the legislative process. They called on interim Culture Minister Natalia Milanova to continue preparing a constitutional law on media freedom and to submit to Parliament other legislative measures aimed at improving the media environment.
The committee expects the police to investigate the threats against Janckarova and other journalists thoroughly and took due note of RTVS's decision to adhere to internal regulations and to resist pressure from politicians when inviting guests to political discussions. Committee members also condemned the "Smer-SD party's political provocation vis-a-vis the public media and the abuse of RTVS in favour of a political campaign".
MPs of the former governing coalition were present for the vote on the resolution and backed it. Opposition MP and former public radio journalist Lubica Lassakova, who was also present, refrained from voting.
Death threats were made against RTVS host Marta Janckarova in February. She received threatening emails and telephone calls after two episodes of the Sobotne dialogy (Saturday Dialogues) political talk-show. President Zuzana Caputova was a guest on the first one, while Smer-SD vice-chair Lubos Blaha attempted to get on the show unannounced instead of Smer-SD's Marian Kery on the second one, but he was rejected by RTVS. Smer-SD then spoke about a failure by Janckarova and the RTVS management and a violation of a democratic discussion.