Czech Radio's Director General Declares Support for Slovak Public Service Broadcaster RTVS

12. březen 2024

Czech Radio has been following recent events involving the Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS) with great apprehension. The current actions of the Slovak government are a cause of deep concern in regard to the fate of not only the public broadcaster, but also democracy as a whole in Slovakia.

The draft law of the National Council of the Slovak Republic of 11 March 2024 means the de facto liquidation of the existing independent public service media RTVS, a long-standing and respected member of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). According to the law, it is to be replaced by a new institution called Slovak Television and Radio, whose management, as well as its programme and broadcasting, would be subject to direct political influence. This is an undoubtable first step towards the nationalization of the public service media in Slovakia and the suppression of its free and objective broadcasting, which is a key condition for maintaining democracy and plurality of opinion.

RTVS, under the leadership of its Director General Ľuboš Machaj, is both a respected broadcaster fulfilling the parameters of a public, independent, informative media, as well as a cultural and educational institution. Its replacement by an entity whose established is allegedly justified by the above-mentioned values is therefore neither necessary nor desirable for the stability of the Slovak media market. This step only confirms our fears that it is a proxy and merely declaratory justification, which in fact conceals alternate objectives – the suppression of the role of RTVS as one of the pillars of democracy in Slovakia.

Czech Radio and RTVS are close partners with a long shared history. Both media institutions pride themselves on their independence and fulfilment of public service values. Czech Radio expresses its support for the existing management of RTVS, as well as all RTVS colleagues, and is highly concerned about the risk of traditional public service media values becoming a mere tool of political expediency in Slovakia in the future.

- René Zavoral, Director General of Czech Radio

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