A new Press Code will govern print media and agencies in Slovakia after having passed in parliament on April 8.

The code replaces the former law on the media, which dated back 42 years, the TASR newswire wrote.

In the end, 81 MPs voted in favour of it – five more than necessary for a simple majority in the 150-member chamber.

Several of the proposed versions of the act have been criticised by the opposition and international organisations. The opposition SDKÚ-DS and SMK parties have been conditioning the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon on the Press Code's revision, but the coalition rejected all the opposition’s amendments.

The Press Code affects publishers and news agencies that collect and disseminate information.

As well as the current right to correct information in an equally prominent space as the alleged misinformation was published, the new code introduces a right to reply. Protection of the journalist’s source is defined as an obligation. The new code doesn’t hold publishers responsible for the content of information that has been provided by a public body, or by a budgetary, or quasi-state organisation, or a legal entity. The new code requires publishers to print an announcement on the structure of ownership relations of the publisher every year in the first issue of the publication.

One of the most controversial parts of the new legislation is that the right to reply applies whether the published information was true.

Upon the president’s signature, the new Press Code will become effective on June 1, 2008. TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports

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