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Press FreedomSlovakia

Slovakia: Thousands protest public broadcaster revamp plan

March 16, 2024

Thousands of Slovaks have taken to the streets saying that a plan by Prime Minister Robert Fico's government to revamp the public broadcaster RTVS would threaten press freedom.

Robert Fico, Prime Minister of Slovakia
Fico's government wants to revamp the country's public broadcaster, Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS)Image: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of Slovaks protested on Friday evening against the government of Prime Minister Robert Fico. 

The demonstrations took place in Sovakia's two largest cities, Bratislava and Košice.

The two liberal opposition parties Progressive Slovakia (PS) and Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) called for the rallies.

The parties accused Fico's government of wanting to bring the country's public broadcaster, Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS), under its control and threaten  press freedom

Demonstrators carried banners with slogans like, "We will not give up RTVS!"

What's the government's plan for RTVS?

According to the plan drafted by Culture Minister Martina Simkovicova, RTVS is to be formally dissolved and transformed into a new institution called "STaR" (short for "Slovak Television and Radio").

A new seven-member council with members nominated by the government and parliament would select
its director, although the current one has a parliamentary mandate until 2027.

The council would have a right to dismiss the director without giving any reason.

More than a thousand RTVS employees signed a call to protest and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), to which RTVS belongs, also criticized the plan as a threat to media independence. 

Since Fico's  return to power in 2023,  there have been protests in towns and cities across Slovakia, including against Fico's  plan to change the justice system that many fear poses a threat to the rule of law.

Slovakia: Protests against the government

ssa/sri (dpa, AP)