The TASR news agency, Slovak Television station, and Slovak radio all posted losses of millions of crowns in 1998, with STV by far being the biggest loser, the Parliamentary Committee for Culture and Media heard on June 8.
The Slovak Television (STV) posted a total loss of 215 million crowns in 1998. This is following a 124 million crown loss in 1996 and 245 million crown loss in 1997, STV director Milan Materak said.
Decreased income from advertising resulting from lower ratings of the STV negatively influenced the financial situation of the public broadcaster. This resulted in reduced purchases of foreign TV programs and an unbalanced broadcasting structure, Materak said.
In September 1999 STV plans to restructure the company, change its organisational structure, and lay off 100 people. Last year, STV employed 2,501 people. STV wants its loss from 1998 to be completely covered from the state budget.
The state budget has allocated 288 million crowns for STV in 1999 compared to last year's state contribution of 367.6 million crowns. Moreover, the state television should get an additional 50 million crowns from the general treasury earmarked for repaying 1997 debts to the Slovak Telecom.
TASR print news agency reported more than a 2 million crown loss in 1998. TASR general director Ivan Ceredejev ascribed the loss to increased costs of insurance, legal charges, losses from exchange rate differences, maintenance and purchases of equipment and "increased VAT".
He maintained that TASR currently has a balanced budget thanks to measures taken by the new management over after the parliamentary elections in September. These measures involved, among other things, staff cuts. This year, TASR plans to spend 13 million crowns for new computers and a new editorial department systems, he said.
The government allocated 79.8 million crowns for TASR from the state budget 1999, up almost one million crowns from 1998.
While it did post a small overall loss, Slovak Radio (SRO) in 1998 did better than expected, ending the year only 4.14 million crowns in debt. It was expected to lose 17.5 million crowns.
SRO director Jaroslav Reznik said that despite the difficult financial situation, SRo has no other arrears except those towards Slovak Telecom.
The Cabinet set aside 279 million crowns for Slovak Radio in 1999, 56 million crowns less than it was allotted in 1998. Of this sum, 63.3 million crowns is to be spent the purchase of foreign broadcast materials, Reznik said.