THE COUNCIL for Broadcasting and Retransmission has found in its survey of March reporting by television stations that the Markíza channel, Slovakia's most-watched, gave over six times more air time to the Ano party of station owner Pavol Rusko than did the state channel STV.
"Principally with TV Markíza we saw a tendency to use this TV station for the promotion of one political party," said council vice-chair Mária Hradiská, adding that the council had launched disciplinary proceedings against Markíza on seven counts of unbalanced reporting, and 10 cases in which journalists mixed comment with factual reports.
Markíza gave non-parliamentary Ano, which was founded only last year, the fourth-most news airtime (6.3 per cent) of any political grouping after the government (28.2 per cent), the opposition HZDS (14.4 per cent) and the ruling coalition SDĽ (12.6 per cent).
The council added that news pieces on Ano not only gave the party unwarranted airtime, but also often did not present the views of other parties, or gave the views of Ano members emphatic weight. The council cited a report from March 11 in which Ano and its representatives were mentioned eight times, while no other party was mentioned even once.
In a recent industry survey of viewing habits among the Slovak public, over 70 per cent of respondents said they had watched Markíza the previous day.