January 12, 2018

RSF concerned about Slovak party attacks on public media

Headquarters of RTVS in Bratislava / DR
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the repeated recent verbal attacks on Slovakia’s state-owned national radio and TV broadcaster, RTVS, by the Slovak National Party (SNS), a junior member of the ruling coalition. The attacks violate this public broadcaster’s independence.

This week, the new RTVS management suspended “Reporteri,” Slovakia’s only investigative current affairs TV programme, after it broadcast a report critical of a state-funded cultural organization linked to the SNS. The management then made changes to the team that produces the history magazine “” and that was also criticized by SNS for a programme on 25th anniversary of the Slovak Republic

Prime Minister Robert Fico, whose Smer-SD party heads the ruling coalition, is also often given to virulent attacks on Slovak media. In 2016, he referred to reporters as “dirty anti-Slovak prostitutes,” accusing them of hurting Slovakia’s European Union presidency by raising questions about his management of public funds.

Last December, he accused journalists of double standards in their coverage of his government, calling them “ignorant” and even offering to show them how to do investigative reporting.

“The repeated attacks by Slovak politicians on privately-owned media and the blatant violations of the editorial independence of the public media are unworthy of a democracy that is 17th in the World Press Freedom Index,” said Pauline Adès-Mével. “Furthermore, they do not sit well with the government’s ambition of having Slovakia seen as a ‘pro-European island in a Euro-sceptic region’.”

Slovakia is ranked 17th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index, five places lower thank last year.