STATEMENT

Slovakia’s President must veto public broadcasting law

21st June 2024
PMA calls on the Slovakia’s President to reject the controversial law, which could expose the country’s public broadcaster to political interference and censorship. 
Logo of RTVS, the Radio and Television of Slovakia (Rozhlas a televízia Slovenska) on a door of a car.
Logo of RTVS, the Radio and Television of Slovakia (Rozhlas a televízia Slovenska) on a door of a car. Credit: naszalyg93 / Shutterstock.com

The Public Media Alliance calls on the President of Slovakia, Peter Pellegrini, to veto the public broadcasting law. The law – which passed its final reading on Thursday 20 June – will see the broadcaster renamed, its current Director General and board replaced, and a new Ethics Committee established.  

If it is approved by the President, the law will come into effect on 1 July.  

PMA and other civil society organisations, media freedom groups, and media associations have long warned that the changes will make RTVS vulnerable to political interference and could result in it becoming a government mouthpiece. In a statement, the EBU called the decision “a blow to democracy and independent media in Slovakia”. 

“It is a black day for the independent public space in Slovakia. It is a dark day for the media space in Slovakia. And it is a black day for civil society in Slovakia.” – RTVS CEO Ľuboš Machaj. 

The European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), passed earlier this year was, in part, created to prevent governments taking measures to bring public service media under their control. It prevents the unjustified removal of Director-Generals or board members, and it forbids any government interference or intrusion on the editorial independence of the public service media entity. 

We call on Slovakia’s President to recognise the potential ramifications of this bill, and to exercise his presidential veto. RTVS, according to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s Digital News Report, is the joint most trusted news organisation in the country.  This trust would be irrevocably damaged if this law goes through. It is vital that the Slovakian public are able to trust their public broadcaster as being independent, and that it is run as a public, rather than a government, service operation.