A Great Misunderstanding or Political Capture? Public-Service Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS) in Turmoil



Rok publikování 2019
Druh Další prezentace na konferencích
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Fakulta sociálních studií

Popis One of the core ideas behind the existence of public service broadcasting (PSB) is to provide the citizens with balanced and reliable information about current events which allow them to choose between electoral alternatives (Scannel 1990, Murdock 2005). To realize this potential, public services broadcasters must be both politically and economically independent (Hanretty 2011); however, especially in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, their capacity to withstand the pressures is periodically tested and contested. In the CEE region, Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS) is one of the most recent examples of a public service broadcaster suspected of having succumbed to political interferences. After the top political representatives repeatedly expressed their hostility and discontent with the news service of the RTVS, in June 2017, the Parliament elected as the new director general a person believed to have ties to the ruling coalition. In the following months, the new director general took several controversial steps (e.g., appointed former spokespeople of state institutions and ministries to top managerial posts, or shut down the country`s only investigative reporting programme after it broadcast a report critical of a state-funded cultural organization linked to one of the coalition party). These were criticized by almost sixty RTVS´s journalists in an open letter in spring 2018. Consequently, some of them were made to leave, others resigned in protest of what they called creeping political pressure and an environment of hostility. The management denied these accusations and described the journalists as predominately young, unseasoned and radical. This paper draws on the literature on politicization of the PSB (e.g., Jakubowicz 2008), political interference (e.g., Lauk and Harro-Loit 2016) and media capture (e.g., Mungiu-Pippidi 2008). Based on semi-structured interviews with principal actors, it explores the genealogy of the conflict between the management and some of the journalists in RTVS. Furthermore, it compares the situation in RTVS with that of the public service broadcasters in the neighboring V4 countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland) and traces down the similarities as well as differences in the mechanisms used by the political power in its attempts to get the PSB under control.

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