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Fico goes to battle with Sme newspaper

Prime Minister Robert Fico’s accusations that the Sme daily newspaper’s reporting is influenced by money from private health care and pension companies are untrue, Sme editor-in-chief Matúš Kostolný said in response to an open letter from the PM from October 2.

"I fully respect that the character of the Sme daily is determined by its ownership structures,” Fico wrote in his letter. “Naturally, the fact that money from advertising campaigns by private companies working in the areas of health care and the pension system also influences your behaviour in relation to the Slovak government. I am also prepared to tolerate the unusual phenomenon in which you have taken up the role of political opposition, which is unprecedented in Europe.”

Kostolný said that over the past three years, advertising income from those companies never exceeded two percent of the newspaper’s total advertising income.

"What is even more important is that Sme resolutely separates its editorial work from the advertising business,” he said. “Sme is an independent daily and it confirms this by its everyday work.”

Kostolný added that he does not feel that his newspaper is in political opposition to the government.

Fico also accused Sme of inventing a story that Fico said the governor of the central bank (NBS) may be corrupt, in an interview on the public Slovak Radio. Kostolný said the daily only recorded what Fico actually said.

-SITA

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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