One of the new coalition's primary pre-election objectives was secured on November 11 when parliament voted to recall Igor Kubiš from his post as director of the state-run STV station. Kubiš, said the government, was responsible for having turned the public media channel into a propaganda tool of the government of former Premier Vladimír Mečiar.
"This is the first step towards turning the ideological centre [of Mečiar's HZDS party] into a public institution," said Ján Budaj, vice chairman of the parliamentary Committee for Culture and Media.
In order to have Kubiš dismissed, the government first had to change the STV Law, shortening the terms of the members of STV Council, who alone are allowed to suggest replacing the STV Director. Having changed the law and recalled the members of the former council, the government then filled the council with new appointees who were willing to lower the boom on Kubiš.
Opposition deputies said that the government's maneuvering to secure its aims at STV spelled the end of the station's independence. "Mr. Budaj will 'clean up' STV just like he did in the case of STV Council," said HZDS deputy Ján Cuper. "Just as [Slovakia's most popular station] TV Markíza is close to the coalition, STV will become a government medium," he added.
The main reason for Kubiš's dismissal was his strong political ties with the HZDS. After Kubiš took over the director's post in 1996, STV screened a series called 'secret witnesses,' which ascribed responsibility for the kidnapping of the president's son, Michal Kováč Jr., to the HZDS's political opponents. The HZDS was also allowed to broadcast its party meetings live, and was given massively disproportionate air time.
Asked by the independent Rádio Twist on November 11 if he would now consider working with any political party, Kubiš replied "yes, but only with the HZDS."
One of the hottest candidates for Kubiš's post is Vlado Repčík, an anchorman with TV Markíza.
16. Nov 1998 at 0:00 | Slavomír Danko