THE MUCH-debated and much-criticised Slovak Press Code has been amended, just one year after the government of Iveta Radičová came into office. Parliament passed the amendment on May 31, softening some of its more controversial aspects, while retaining its most-criticised provision, the one that establishes public officials’ right to publish a reply in the media.
The government’s programme statement adopted last July obliged it to seek to amend the law governing the media, stating that the government will “make the necessary legislative changes, mainly cancelling the right of reply for a public official”.
According to the amended Press Code, public officials will no longer be able to insist on a published reply to stories about them providing these are about their performance of public functions. But public officials will still enjoy a right of reply for articles written about them as private individuals, in accordance with the Slovak Constitution, the Culture Ministry stated.
The amended Press Code states that the right to reply is effective only for an untrue, incomplete or truth-bending statement that affects the honour, dignity or privacy or the name or good image of a person that can be clearly identified.
Press freedom in Slovakia became an issue after the 2008 Press Code was passed. It granted the right to correct and to reply to anyone who felt their honour and dignity were harmed by a published article; they needed only to request that their reply be printed within 30 days of the original publication date.
Publishers of dailies were required to print the reply within three days of receipt of the reply and other periodicals had to include it in their next issue. The 2008 Press Code provided a right of reply even if the published information was totally truthful and also provided a right to a correction even if the published information was not libellous, establishing fines of up to €4,980 against publishers.
13. Jun 2011 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff