RTVS employees urge lawmakers to vote down bill on public broadcaster

RTVS employees urge lawmakers to vote down bill on public broadcaster

The coordination commission of Radio and Television Slovakia (RTVS) employees' initiative for public character and independence submitted open letters to lawmakers of Parliament, urging them to vote down the bill on Slovak Television and Radio (STVR) on Friday.

"With this formal act [...] we'd like to show that as employees we care about being able to work in a free institution," explained member of the commission Tomáš Bartonek. He pointed out that the letters were symbolically submitted on World Press Freedom Day.

The letter’s authors argue that the bill on STVR raises concerns about not only the future of unbiased news reporting but also the overall trustworthiness and standing of the public broadcaster in Slovakia. These concerns were expressed by hundreds of employees of the Radio and Television Slovakia, pointing out that criticism has also been voiced by foreign media and protests from respected public figures.

The RTVS employees warned lawmakers that weakening of the public broadcaster's standing will only deepen concerns about the rule of law in Slovakia and the level of its democracy in the eyes of partners, including the European Commission. The employees believe that it's necessary for the success of Slovakia and all its people to have media that are genuinely free, independent and which report only true and verified information.

The bill on STVR was approved by the government in late April. The motion does not formally split the current RTVS, but changes the rules guiding the creation of the public broadcaster's bodies, terminates the tenure of incumbent director Ľuboš Machaj and RTVS Board members and changes the institution's name, as the submitters believe that the existing name has degraded the state-forming (Slovak) nation.

Representatives of the coalition argued that reform is needed because, in their view, RTVS has been biased in its news reporting and its current model of operations is unsustainable. The proposal has been lambasted by the opposition, several NGOs and RTVS management, who concurred that the changes are purpose-built. 


Romana Grajcarová, Photo: TASR

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