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Press bill to give politicians power

A DRAFT press law calling for a 'media council' elected by parliament that would supervise the work of journalists has been slammed by critics as unwarranted political interference with the freedom of the press. The bill is in second reading in parliament.

Backers of the draft say Slovakia needs a new Press Law, as the existing legislation, drafted in 1966, does not give adequate protection against libel. While plaintiffs can take their complaints to both civil and criminal courts, the bill's authors say, trials in Slovakia take so long that the libel becomes almost irrelevant by the time a verdict is given.

But press advocates say the bill goes against a Council of Europe resolution that calls on EU member countries to encourage self-regulation in the media and to prevent state interference with the press.

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