THE SLOVAK public service television broadcaster, Slovenská Televízia (STV), has published two variants of its budget proposal for the coming year. One of the alternatives is designed as an emergency regime in case STV does not receive the funds it has requested from the government, the Sme daily wrote on January 13. Should that happen, management will have to cut expenses dramatically, by firing 340 employees - or one third of its staff - and pulling STV’s new sports channel (Trojka) from February.
Apart from that, STV2 (Dvojka) would also work under a restricted regime, broadcasting only from 16:00 on weekdays and from noon at weekends. Re-runs would dominate the output on both remaining channels, STV1 and STV2. Preparations for digitalisation are not even included in the budget which nonetheless forecasts a loss of €3 million.
The more favourable alternative of the budget counts on a subvention from the state of about €20 million. However, no state representative has promised to provide such financial resources to STV; nor is the sum included in the state budget, Sme wrote.
Rumours say sackings have already begun, with 19 positions already cancelled, but STV would not confirm this.
“It’s too early to talk about concrete steps, since the issue of the 2009 budget is still open,” Sme quoted STV spokeswoman Želmíra Habánová as saying. However, STV is ready to start the new year using only the financial resources it gets from the TV licence fee and advertising, she added.
Štefan Nižňanský, the director of STV, called 2008 the year of unfulfilled promises and complained about a ‘non-systematic’ approach.
According to Medialne.sk, a portal dedicated to media and advertising, the state is partly to blame for the situation: STV’s income from advertising was cut by the Audiovisual Fund law, and the missing money was supposed to be substituted through an agreement with the government. However, the agreement will only be considered in 2010.
19. Jan 2009 at 0:00 | Compiled by the Spectator staff from press reports