Afrique Ameriques Asie Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Slovakia28 March 2008

Six leading dailies bring out issues with blank front pages in protest against proposed press law reform

In a protest against a controversial bill to reform a 1966 press law, Slovakia’s six leading daily newspapers yesterday brought out issues with nothing on the front page except seven articles from the bill that have been dubbed the “seven capital sins.”

The six newspapers were highlighting their concern about the lack of any significant response to calls for changes to the draft law, which was submitted to parliament at the end of 2007 and is due to be resubmitted for a vote next week.

Despite the intervention of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and unanimous condemnation by the media and journalists, the bill still provides for direct culture ministry control over media coverage of a range of subjects considered sensitive, as well as automatic right of response for anyone who, rightly or wrongly, thinks they have been defamed or insulted.

“We very much hope that Prime Minister Robert Fico will keep the promises he made on 4 February, when he said he would take account of the observations made by the major international organisations,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“When it joined the European Union, Slovakia undertook to comply with democratic standards, especially as regards press freedom,” Reporters Without Borders added. “A bill that would limit the editorial freedom of the news media by subjecting them to official criteria arbitrarily imposed by the government is unacceptable and must be withdrawn.”

The OSCE welcomed the initial changes made by the government but insisted that the bill continued to pose a serious threat to the editorial autonomy of the news media.

“It is a great pity that the recommendations proposed on the right of response were not taken into consideration,” said Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE’s representative on freedom of the media. “As things stand, this law would still not satisfy respect for Slovakia’s undertakings to the OSCE as regards protection of press freedom.”

The government has a big enough majority to get the proposed press law passed, but it needs the opposition’s votes to ratify the European Union’s new Lisbon treaty, and the opposition has pledged to block ratification if the government does not make the necessary changes to the press law.

  In this country
11 April - Slovakia
Seven leading dailies appear with blank front pages in protest against new media law
5 February - Slovakia
Prime minister ready to talk with OSCE about changes to press bill

in the annual report
Europe press releases
4 June - Kosovo
Rrokum TV station still excluded by national broadcasting network
2 June - Ukraine
Potential witness’s death deals severe blow to probe into journalist’s murder
2 June - Turkey
Woman journalist held for past five weeks on baseless charge of link to armed group
2 June - Russia
Journalist seeks asylum in Finland after being convicted for prison torture articles
29 May - France
Regrettable decision by appeal court to lift ban on magazine only if offending photo is covered up

5 February 2009 - Bulgaria
“Resignation or resistance, Bulgaria’s embattled press hesitates”
28 January 2009 - Russia
Fact-finding visit : Moscow double murder may have been linked to November attack on local newspaper editor
27 June 2008 - Turkey
Investigation report into the detention of journalist Haci Bogatekin, imprisoned for more than two months and facing ten and a half years in prison

Sign the petitions
Jusuf Ruzimuradov

Europe archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives