New TASR Director Puchala Presents Agency’s Future to MPs

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TASR general director Vladimir Puchala (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, September 26 (TASR) – The News Agency of the Slovak Republic (TASR) wants to reach Slovak regions better, according to one of the plans that Vladimir Puchala, the new general director of the public service agency, presented to members of Parliament’s media and culture committee on Tuesday.

MPs discussed and acknowledged his report on TASR’s operations for the first half of 2017.

The new TASR chief told MPs that he wants to make the agency’s service accessible to all towns and villages in Slovakia for free within a single framework contract. He has already held preliminary talks on this step with the Association of Slovak Towns and Villages. “We can perform our public service duty better in this way, by being closer to the public, citizens, to local media,” explained Puchala.

The project also envisages creating an internet interface where towns and villages will be able to put up announcements for their events. The new director also plans to increase the number of regional editors, whose nation-wide network is already now the biggest from all media. He also wants TASR to provide its service in the languages of the national minorities.

Committee chairman Dusan Jarjabek (Smer-SD) views TASR today as an acceptable player. “It happened with the law change, when the news agency was transferred from state-run into a public service institution. It’s acceptable, it has its authority and I can only keep my fingers crossed for you that this is the case also in future,” he told the new director.

Puchala presented to the MPs financial results achieved by TASR under the management of its previous director Jaroslav Reznik. Reznik was elected as general director of public service RTVS earlier this year, and subsequently the board of directors chose TASR’s strategic director Puchala as his successor.

TASR produced a surplus of €13,262 for the first half of 2017. Revenues from the sale of own products and services amounted to €1.283 million (ex-VAT), which is an increase of 9 percent year-on-year. It published 141,613 pieces of multimedia news, with the biggest portion (77,285) being text news. TASR collected the 2017 Award for Excellence in News Agency Quality in Belgrade last week, having earned the accolade from the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) for its social media aggregator SomeCan.

“It is a unique award for the news agency, as it has never before achieved an international success like this. It attests to the fact that a small agency can also succeed in the international competition if it systematically invests in innovation and is a trendsetter on its market,” stated Puchala. Several European agencies have expressed their interest in the product’s licensing and it can thus get into the European media market, added the new director.

The MPs were also interested in the new TASR director’s position on cooperating with a private partner in the company called Teraz Media, which operates the internet television Tablet.TV and was a project of TASR’s previous director Reznik. Puchala told them that he will convene the company’s general meeting soon to discuss further procedures with the private partner. He did not want to present potential conclusions in advance.