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Parliamentary Committee recommends approval of Press Bill

The parliamentary committee for culture and the media recommended on March 26 that Parliament approve the Government's new draft of the Press Bill. However, it also recommended amending proposals submitted by governing-coalition Smer-SD party MP Ján Podmanický, the TASR newswire wrote.

The parliamentary committee for culture and the media recommended on March 26 that Parliament approve the Government's new draft of the Press Bill. However, it also recommended amending proposals submitted by governing-coalition Smer-SD party MP Ján Podmanický, the TASR newswire wrote.

The current draft of the Bill does not include a previously-included section that stated that the Culture Ministry will be able to impose fines on the media for publishing information that promotes war, narcotics abuse, violence or racial hatred.

But the opposition is still not satisfied with the amended draft. According to SDKÚ-DS party vice-chairman Ivan Mikloš, if the coalition parties fail to accept three minimum conditions set by the opposition, the SDKÚ and its opposition partners will refuse to vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty.

"The reservations concern fines imposed by the ministry, which has already been sorted out, but they also include the right to reply and the obligation to protect journalists' sources," added Mikloš.

Podmanický argued that the right to reply was specified in such a way that it would only apply to matter-of-fact statements, to which it will only be possible to respond using similar types of statements and not evaluative commentaries. Concerns over the possible misuse of this practice haven't materialised in Germany and France, and even if such cases did appear in Slovakia, the law would still be open to amendments, added Podmanický.

Mikloš also said that he didn't think that conditioning approval of the Lisbon Treaty by insisting on changes to the Press Act was inappropriate.

"The Lisbon Treaty includes a Charter of Basic Human Rights that concerns freedom of expression and the press, and the public's right to information," he said, asserting that the coalition intends to approve two contradictory pieces of legislation - the Act and the Treaty. TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports

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