Madaric: RTVS Caught in Crossfire; No Deal on RTVS Head Made Yet

Culture Minister Marek Madaric

Bratislava, April 11 (TASR) – Public-service Radio and Television Slovakia (RTVS) has been caught up in attacks coming from two sides, said Culture Minister Marek Madaric on Tuesday.

In addition to efforts by co-governing Slovak National Party (SNS) chairman Andrej Danko to bring RTVS under the state’s authority, the organisation has been under attack from the Opposition, said Madaric, referring to a bill by OLaNO-NOVA aimed at amending RTVS’s funding model according to a fixed GDP percentage state subsidy.

“Both proposals have the same upshot in that both Slovak Television and Slovak Radio [which come under RTVS – ed. note] could fall under the direct political influence of politicians,” said Madaric.

When asked where Smer stands on SNS’s efforts and if the leading coalition party will allow them to become a reality, Madaric said that this hasn’t yet been worked out into a specific bill. “Other than the Opposition’s bill, we haven’t seen anything other than a sort of vision from SNS,” said the minister.

Madaric called himself a proponent of the public-service character of RTVS. “This is why I extracted the News Agency of the Slovak Republic [TASR] from state authority and changed a large part of the state grant scheme into public-service funds, and I endeavour to boost aspects of RTVS that allow for its greater independence down the road,” he said.

Turning to Prime Minister Robert Fico’s criticism of the goings-on at RTVS, Madaric said that criticism is a far cry from actual efforts to introduce substantial changes at RTVS.

“Just as politicians must cope with criticism, the media are also subject to criticism. The prime minister has voiced his view indirectly as to who shouldn’t be elected general director,” said Madaric.

“I consider RTVS news reporting to be leaning towards the Opposition … [and] the RTVS management must be replaced,” said Fico on April 4.

To Madaric’s mind, what matters far more, however, is the actual result of the upcoming RTVS general director vote, the measures to be taken by the new chief, and what sort of people his or her circle of aides will include.

No political agreement on the choice of an RTVS head has been made within the Coalition yet, said Madaric, adding that he himself has held no talks on the issue and that talks will be conducted at the level of parliamentary caucuses. “This is an open competition, and after the candidates submit their bids, maybe some negotiations will take place,” he added.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Robert Kalinak (Smer-SD) echoed Fico’s sentiments on Tuesday. “Nobody here minds criticism from RTVS, but it mustn’t get itself into a position that’s incompatible with itself, and the prime minister is in the right,” said Kalinak.

“RTVS can’t take the liberty of doing what commercial channels or tabloids can do,” he said.

Kalinak also bemoaned the fact that, unlike Czech Television, RTVS doesn’t cover the lives of people in the regions.