Cabinet Okays Bill on Slovak Television and Radio

Cabinet Okays Bill on Slovak Television and Radio
Left, Prime Minister Robert Fico and Culture Minister Martina Simkovicova at the government meeting in Dolna Krupa on April 24, 2024 (photo by TASR)

        Bratislava, April 24 (TASR) - Public-service broadcaster Radio and Television Slovakia (RTVS) is to be renamed Slovak Television and Radio (STVR), according to the draft law on STVR approved by the government on Wednesday.
        The director will be elected by a nine-member council including four nominees from the Culture Ministry.
        The proposal amending the law on television and radio isn't aimed at dividing the single public institution providing both television and radio broadcasting, but, according to the Culture Ministry, the author of the law, it does create conditions for the independent development of Slovak Television and Slovak Radio. "It will introduce a higher form of flexibility along with new elements and a combination of public and private law into the process of electing and dismissing the general director of the institution and the creation of the STVR council," added the ministry.
        The ministry defended the proposed changes by pointing to negative experience resulting from the application of the Radio and Television Slovakia Act and comparisons with experience from how public institutions are run abroad, especially elsewhere in Europe. "The submitted draft law is also based on the suggestions of the lay and professional public, which call for an urgent improvement in the performance of the basic functions of the public service with the aim of greater objectivity in broadcasting," added the Culture Ministry.
        The proposal changes the very name of the public service media. According to the submitters, "the current common name of the institution for the Slovak public-service media outlet Radio and Television Slovakia degrades the Slovak nation to the region of Slovakia, because instead of the adjective 'Slovak', denoting the state-forming nation, the name uses the territorial designation of the public-service media of Slovakia".
        The STVR bodies will be the council and the general director. The council will have nine members as before, but the way that it will be constituted is changing. The culture minister will nominate four members of the council on the basis of a selection procedure, while the remaining five will be elected by Parliament. These five members will include experts in the fields of television broadcasting, radio broadcasting, law, economics and, for the first time, information technology. The term of office of members of the council will remain at six years.
        The council will have the power to elect the STVR general director on the basis of a public hearing of the candidates. The council will also have the power to remove the director if the relevant provisions of the act for this are met. The general director will appoint two deputies, one for Slovak Radio and one for Slovak Television.
        The tenure of current RTVS general director Lubos Machaj will end on the date on which the proposed new law comes into effect. The same will apply to the mandates of the members of the current RTVS council.
        When it comes to financing STVR, the new law respects the status quo, with the primary source of funding a claimable contribution of at least 0.12 percent of GDP.