Letter to the Editor: Slovak Telecom for the record

In your October 9-22, 1996, (Vol. 2, No. 17) edition, you published an article by Jana Dorotková, concerning the dispute between Slovak Telecommunications (ST) and Ivan Matušík. I think a newspaper that would like to remain a member of the Slovak press community for an extended period and to reach an ever-increasing audience should publish only proven facts and arguments, and not suppress well-known public information, nor favor one party in a legal dispute, especially where the case has not yet been decided. In this article, there were misleading facts and lies, the publication of which violates journalist's ethics throughout the world.

In her introduction, the author repeated information she received from an anonymous representative of the American bank Citibank; namely that Citibank will grant a syndicated loan of $100 million to ST for a period of five years. This information later appeared in an article she co-authored with Robert Žitňanský, published in the October 14 edition of Sme. We refuted this the next day. A representative of Citibank Slovakia was surprised and assured us that it was not common practice anywhere in the world to supply the media with such announcements. Maybe the authors were thinking that paper can absorb everything, so this information was again published.

In the article, the author confirms that ST has a contractual relationship with Mr. Matušík's firm Herold Business Data Slovakia s.r.o. concerning the publication of telephone directories, which she notes is not in fact true and then contradicts this. In fact, the contract is with another firm headed by this man. But this company is not involved in a legal dispute with ST.

Why is this so, if it legally exists? Maybe because the company is also involved in a legal dispute with the Austrian publisher of telephone directories concerning the theft of the company's name and logo. But it is the duty of serious journalism, and the conscience of the author, to supply all the facts and origin of all quotes.

To quote Mr. Matušík concerning the penalties and the clause in the fundamental contract, the author states that "Slovak telecommunications, probably on their own, proposed disadvantageous conditions, to sue us, if we hadn't delivered the printed telephone directories on time." Among the media dealing with this matter, it is well-known that when Mr. Matušík called a press conference, he could not recall, even after the question was repeated several times, who proposed said condition. This was met with amusement, as was his information concerning the noble origin of this company's name.

Dear Editor, I would be grateful if your newspaper published our response to the cited article. We assert this right on the basis of the Press Law, because some of the published comments attributed to us are not true, and other information has been omitted. I would like to assure you that, on the contrary, we are pleased to provide information on ST, in conformity with the Press Law, and to crate a serious relationship for the future.

Ľubomír Stancel, Spokesman of Slovak Telecommunications, Bratislava

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