On September 23, during the moratorium that prohibits all media from publishing or broadcasting information favouring politicians or their parties within 48 hours of elections, the public STV station broadcast a speech given by Ivan Gašparovič, the Speaker of Parliament and a candidate for the HZDS party of Vladimír Mečiar. In the speech, Gašparovič urged voters to "vote with your hearts", a word-by-word restatement of the HZDS campaign motto.
For this infraction, Slovakia's independent media watchdog, the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting (RRTV), fined STV one million Slovak crowns ($27,400) on October 6.
STV was also found guilty of violating the Slovak Constitution for broadcasting a documentary which claimed that the opposition KDH party had been trying to hawk antique relics and objets d'art abroad. For that misdeed, STV was ordered to broadcast a public announcement acknowledging that it had violated the constitution by not respecting the presumed innocence of the KDH officials publicly accused in the documentary.
Bloodied but unbowed, STV Council released a statement on October 13 in which it accused the RRTV of imposing "inappropriate and politically unfair" sanctions on STV, and blamed the council for ignoring transgressions by private media. "The so-called [RRTV] license council helped to prolong the media chaos in the pre-election period with its unprincipled assessment of the fulfilment of license conditions by private media," read the statement.
"The thing was, that there was a certain law and STV broke it several times. That's all," said Peter Kováč, RRTV vice-chairman, in response to the statement. Kováč maintained that the RRTV had been "very lenient" in punishing STV. RRTV will deal with the STV Council statement at its October 20 session.
19. Oct 1998 at 0:00 | Ivan Remiaš