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Coalition MPs react to protest against Press Code

In protest of the draft Press Code that the governing coalition is trying to push through parliament, Slovak dailies came out on March 27 with identical cover pages that railed against what they called the draft’s “anti-democratic nature”.

In protest of the draft Press Code that the governing coalition is trying to push through parliament, Slovak dailies came out on March 27 with identical cover pages that railed against what they called the draft’s “anti-democratic nature”.

The Association of Publishers of Periodical Press (ZVPT) contends that the draft, which is now in its second reading, creates an unreasonably broad right to respond and right to a correction, which infringe on the freedom of the press.

The dailies urge MPs to oppose the draft, which, they say, is directed against their voters. The cover pages list "the Seven Sins of the Press Code" and the other pages show examples of what the dailies will look like if the draft is passed.

The publisher initiated the protest after the Parliamentary Committee for Culture and Media approved the coalition's version of the text without changes proposed by the opposition, press, or international organisations.

Slovak publishers have organised similar protests at two other times, both of which took place under the Vladimír Mečiar government.

Smer-SD deputy Ján Podmanický said he is not concerned about the protest, adding that publishers just want to earn as high a profit as possible and do not care about being objective.

"A joke repeated for the second time is no longer funny,” Podmanický told the SITA newswire. “The situation in 2008 cannot be compared with the situation in the 1990s."

Rafael Rafaj, head of the Slovak National Party (SNS) parliamentary caucus, quipped that the protest made the front pages more understandable to the average reader. And Milan Urbani, deputy chairman of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (ĽS-HZDS), said that the party would not submit any changes to the draft.

However, Urbani added that the draft will undergo some changes after it’s passed, in order to satisfy all sides. SITA

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports

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