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RTVS needs money from state now, director says

According to the Report on the Activities and Management of Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS), Slovakia’s main public broadcaster, the state-owned institution posted a €5,441,035 surplus in the first half of 2011. The RTVS Council discussed the report on Wednesday, August 17. RTVS is expected to balance its books this year, but it has so far received no money from the state to repay its existing debts.

According to the Report on the Activities and Management of Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS), Slovakia’s main public broadcaster, the state-owned institution posted a €5,441,035 surplus in the first half of 2011. The RTVS Council discussed the report on Wednesday, August 17. RTVS is expected to balance its books this year, but it has so far received no money from the state to repay its existing debts.

Director-general Miloslava Zemková said that RTVS’ outstanding debt was the reason why it could not invest in the programmes or new technology it needed, the SITA newswire reported. RTVS’ forerunners, STV and Slovenský Rozhlas, posted losses of €24.5 million in 2010. Although the management has asked the state to pay €45 million to cover the debt RTVS inherited, it is expected to receive only €24 million.

Zemková stressed that she never said RTVS would be able to save enough to pay off its debts, emphasising that RTVS is a public operation, not a profit-oriented one. She said she hoped that RTVS would receive the money from promised state coffers as soon as possible, adding that the debt situation was already tense, especially in terms of RTVS’ relationship with the TV signal distributor Towercom, which is its largest creditor.

RTVS’ sports channel Trojka (STV3) ceased broadcasting in June in order to save funds; mass layoffs have also been launched and 114 employees have left the company so far. Another 250 are due to go. The company has also merged some of its branches and studios.

The government decided on Wednesday, August 17, to pass a draft amendment to the RTVS law under which TV licence fees will be abolished, the TASR newswire wrote. The Culture Ministry suggested that RTVS be financed chiefly from the state budget, more specifically by a sum amounting to 0.142 percent of Slovakia's GDP for the preceding year. As a result, the institution is to receive €93.78 million in 2012. This slightly exceeds the law-stipulated minimum sum of €90 million allocated to RTVS each year in order to ensure its provision of a public service. The idea of scrapping licence fees has faced opposition from the Finance Ministry, which took exception to what it viewed as the excessive funding that the state would have to provide to RTVS to make up for the income lost when licence fees are abolished.

The amendment also proposes that the salary of the RTVS head be raised from four to seven times the national average, which would bring the director-general's monthly remuneration to over €5,300.

Sources: SITA, TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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