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Slovakia shuts down its national broadcasting corporation.

In Spite of Large-Scale Demonstrations

The headquarters of the RTVS station in Bratislava.
The headquarters of the RTVS station in Bratislava.

Slovakia shuts down its national broadcasting corporation.

Slovakia's government, under fire for bias charges, plans to dismantle public broadcaster RTVS. This move sparks massive street protests. During the decisive vote, the opposition storms out in protest.

Slovakia's parliament has given the green light to the abolition of the public-service broadcasting entity RTVS. Months of demonstrations from the opposition and RTVS staffers led up to the vote in Bratislava. Eventually, all 78 deputies from the three social-democratic and nationalist government parties voted for the contentious legislation. On the other hand, opposition parliamentarians walked out of the session hall during the vote in a show of defiance.

Critics accuse Minister of Culture Martina Simkovicova and Prime Minister Robert Fico, a left-populist, of consistently criticizing RTVS reporting for being biased against them. Despite this, they couldn't oust the General Director and his team appointed by a previous parliamentary majority due to existing legal constraints. The planned dissolution of the broadcaster will eliminate this hurdle.

As of July 1, RTVS will be phased out and replaced by a new broadcasting institution called STVR. A new management team can be appointed after this switch. Critics have been vocal about the government's alleged attempts to transform the broadcaster into a mouthpiece for the government. Thousands heeded opposition calls to protest in the early months of the year.

However, momentum for the protest movement dwindled after the opposition's defeat in the presidential election in early April and an attack on Prime Minister Fico on May 15. Recent protests against the government and its media plans in Bratislava have drawn only a few hundred people, according to reports from Tuesday.

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After the government's decision to abolish RTVS, there were concerns in Slovakia about the country's commitment to public service broadcasting. Despite facing criticism over alleged bias, the government pressed on with plans to dismantle RTVS and replace it with a new entity, STVR.

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