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Very little sympathy for the code

IN THE SHOWDOWN over Slovakia's new Press Code, the governing coalition is giving no quarter on its most controversial provision.

IN THE SHOWDOWN over Slovakia's new Press Code, the governing coalition is giving no quarter on its most controversial provision.

As The Slovak Spectator went to print, the Robert Fico government was insisting that anyone who felt slighted by a story - including politicians, convicted criminals and businesses - should have the right to publish a reply. Even on the front page; even if the reported facts were entirely correct.

The government declared that its new law would actually increase freedom of speech by giving people who felt impugned by press coverage an alternative to long court cases to secure satisfaction.

But in a survey of the senior management of international newspapers, The Slovak Spectator found little sympathy for the Fico government's intentions.

"Such a policy has no place in a country that purports to have a free press," said Jonathan Kay, the managing editor of the National Post in Canada. "Slovakia would place itself outside the norms of Western democracy if it passed a law like that" opined Jackson Diehl, deputy editor of the Washington Post. "The "right to reply" is an outrageous abuse of the basic principle of real democracy," argued Károly T. Vörös, the editor-in-chief of Hungary's Népszabadság daily.

For the full responses of editors around the world, see page 3.

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