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Political motives behind STV appointment

A THEATRE director with ties to the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) party has been named the new director of Slovak public television (STV)'s Košice studio without going through the recruitment process.

A THEATRE director with ties to the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) party has been named the new director of Slovak public television (STV)'s Košice studio without going through the recruitment process.

The Košice studio's new head, Štefan Fejko, worked as the director of Spišské Divadlo (Spiš Theatre) until he was given the position in Košice. He has also been a member of the STV Council since 2002, when he was nominated to the position by the HZDS.

The executive director of STV, Roman Lipták, refused to say why Fejko was hired, saying that this question could only be answered by STV's general director, Radim Hreha. However, Hreha did not comment on the matter.

Several months ago, HZDS vice-chairman Milan Urbáni said in an interview on the Sme website that the coalition government agreed to share certain positions and activities at STV among them.

However, in an interview with the Sme daily, Fejko insisted there was no political reason for his nomination.

He said as "a member of the Council he cannot be a member of any political party," and that during voting and discussions in the council, he was guided solely by his personal convictions.

However, according to some council members, Fejko promoted the interests of HZDS on the council, especially when assessing the newscast. He was critical of the management of Richard Rybníček, and appeared to favour Hreha.

Several members of the council consider Fejko's nomination a reward for his support for Hreha during the election of the general director.

On March 30, Fejko gave up his membership in the council, and said he also intends to give up his position at Spišské Divadlo.

Although Hreha announced at his inauguration last year that he would fill leading positions using a transparent recruitment process, he chose Fejko without one.

This is not the first time that Hreha has found himself accused of basing his personnel decisions on politics.

Hreha fired STV's editor-in-chief Roland Kyška shortly after he arrived last December, and then sacked Eugen Korda, the head of the investigative reporting program Reportéri, at the beginning of January,.

Both Kyška and Korda said that Hreha had told them during one-on-one meetings that they were being let go for political reasons.

Then the host of the Pod Lampou talk show, Štefan Hríb, invited Korda to appear on the show and allowed him to criticise Hreha without the director being present. Hreha then accused Hríb of a lack of professionalism, and fired him.

Hreha told The Slovak Spectator at the time that he fired Korda for professional reasons, and that he "feels independent [of political pressures]".

Last November, a list created by the ruling parties outlining the distribution and nomination of positions at STV became public. Among the positions was the director's position at the STV studio in Banská Bystrica, which was to be filled by Martin Krupa, the spokesperson of the local government in Banská Bystrica. In the past, he was a staffer at the private station, TV Markíza, and STV. When the list was made public, Krupa said he did not know anything about it.

According to information obtained by Sme, the STV studio in Bratislava will probably be shut down and there will be a change in the position of the head of the Banská Bystrica studio.

Fejko took over from Tatiana Košťanová, who led the studio for several years, on April 2.

- This article first appeared
in Sme, April 2, 2007

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