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Media Council fines STV for breaching election moratorium

Slovakia's media watchdog, the Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting (RRTV) ruled on June 1 that Slovak Television (STV) and Slovak Radio had violated the Law on Presidential Election when it provided their air time to an address of Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda during the 48-hour moratorium prior to the second round of the presidential elections held May 29.

Council chairman Peter Juras announced that the Council fined the public television one million crowns and ordered both the television and the radio stations to broadcast an announcement of their infraction.

Though the official election campaign of presidential candidates ended at 7:00 a.m. on May 27, Prime Minister Dzurinda appeared on national television on Thursday evening to invite Slovak citizens to come to the polls in the second round of presidential elections. While he did not mention any candidates by name, his remarks were taken by observers to be supportive of Schuster.

Dzurinda made a similar error to that of former Speaker of Parliament and HZDS member Ivan Gasparovic, who used STV two days before the general elections on September 26-27, 1998 to remind Slovak citizens to consult their heart before the election, a reference to a HZDS campaign slogan. STV was also fined 1 million crowns at that time.

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