Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico announced on Thursday, September 17, that he is ready to initiate a tougher Press Code due to what he called the number of lies published mainly in the tabloid press.
Speaking at an extraordinary press conference in Bratislava, Fico pointed to an article published in Plus 7 Dní weekly (which also appeared on Thursday, September 17, in abbreviated form in its sister daily Plus Jeden Deň, under the headline ‘Among the Elite’), which reported that he pays €900 a month for his son's education. The prime minister stated that he could prove he is only paying €89 per month for his son's school.
According to Fico, it is well known that in the tabloid media environment there is corruption of journalists, who write positive articles for payment. He, however, chooses not to go down that path. On the other hand he is ready to draw attention to this situation and, in specific cases where untrue information is published, to sue the media and initiate legislative amendments.
"I would welcome it if we could amend the periods for publishing a reply. Currently it is three days, but it needs to be changed to two days or one day," explained Fico, as quoted by the TASR newswire, adding that he will propose shortening the period to 24 hours during an election campaign, "when politicians really don't have the chance to defend themselves".
The Press Code currently states that the right to reply by a private individual or a legal entity can be exercised if reports contain allegations injuring their good reputation, dignity or privacy. Those affected can apply to respond within 30 days, with publishers obliged to print their response within three days of delivery of the application. Failure to do so can lead to penalties ranging from €1,660 to €4,980.
Fico also wants to pass an amendment so that fines would not be imposed after a court decision but would be levied directly as a result of the provisions of the code. "In other words, if the tabloid does not publish a response either in two days or within 24 hours, the appropriate fine will be levied ... as waiting for a court decision sometimes takes two or three years," he said.
The prime minister also called on the electronic media to stop broadcasting advertisements for tabloids. "Stop that ... because in the same way that I will sue Plus 7 Dní and other tabloids I will use all legal means to protect my person from electronic media that purvey such advertising," he concluded.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
18. Sep 2009 at 10:00