Protests break out in Slovakia as government proposes overhaul of state media News
Kiwiev, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Protests break out in Slovakia as government proposes overhaul of state media

Thousands of people protested in Slovakia on Friday against a plan by the government to dissolve state-funded media organization Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS) in favor of a plan opponents allege is part of increasing totalitarian and Russian influence in the government.

The new proposal would create Slovak Television and Radio (STaR) and would give the ruling coalition the power to dismiss the director of the new media organization. The plan was proposed by the Slovakian Minister of Culture Martina Šimkovičová after Šimkovičová heavily criticized RTVS for alleged bias against the ruling coalition. The staff of RTVS defended themselves against the accusations, claiming that RTVS is dedicated to furthering Slovakian culture and is not biased in its programming.

The press freedom organization Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) has alleged that the new plan would violate Article 5 of the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) which states that directors of public media organizations:

…may be dismissed before the end of their term of office only exceptionally where they no longer fulfill the legally predefined conditions required for the performance of their duties laid down in advance by national law or for specific reasons of illegal conduct or serious misconduct as defined in advance by national law.

Opposition political parties Progressive Slovakia (PS) and the Freedom and Solidarity Party (SaS) have expressed opposition to the plan, raising concerns over the potential for the proliferation of misinformation and bias towards the ruling coalition and current Prime Minister Robert Fico.