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IPI condemns libel damages against Radio Viva

The International Press Institute (IPI) condemned the recent decision by the Bratislava Regional Court ordering Slovak broadcaster Radio Viva to pay Sk1 million (over €30,000) in libel damages to a Slovak judge in connection with a 2004 report on fraud charges brought against him.

The International Press Institute (IPI) condemned the recent decision by the Bratislava Regional Court ordering Slovak broadcaster Radio Viva to pay Sk1 million (over €30,000) in libel damages to a Slovak judge in connection with a 2004 report on fraud charges brought against him.

The report - an item in a regular evening news broadcast - was based on comments made by then Interior Minister Vladimír Palko at an official press conference. The Court found that the statement made by the news-presenter during the report, in which she paraphrased Palko's words, was "incorrect and truth-distorting."

"The paraphrasing of comments for brevity is standard practice - particularly in broadcast journalism," said IPI director David Dadge. "The court's failure to recognize this raises questions about the effectiveness of the Slovak judicial system in matters of media freedom. We strongly believe that the plaintiff should have sought redress through the available self-regulatory bodies, which are in a better position to evaluate the editorial judgments made by the media."

Radio Viva has indicated it will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, if necessary. SITA

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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