SLOVAKS seem to be no big fans of acronyms. If you see one, it likely bears the name of a public institution, political party, or a foreign firm. In the first category, there is RTVS (the public broadcaster), NR SR (the parliament), FNM (the National Property Fund), SIS (the Slovak intelligence service), NKÚ (the Supreme Audit Office), ÚPN (the Nation’s Memory Institute), SPP (the national gas company), and the list could go on and on. In the second group you have the KDH (the Christian Democratic Movement), SDKÚ (the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union), SaS (Freedom and Solidarity), and SNS (the Slovak National Party). And in the last group you will find the usual mix of HBO, KFC, and ING.
Rather than opting for something in the style of NBC or ABC, local private media choose names such as Markíza and Joj (the main TV stations), Expres and Fun (the most popular radio stations), or Nový Čas, Sme, and Pravda (the main newspapers). Even VÚB, which initially stood for General Loans Bank, inherited its name from the time when it was a state-run company, and no longer uses the full-length version.
So if there is a newspaper title containing an acronym you don’t immediately recognise as a global brand or the name of a political party, you can be pretty sure of two things – that it is about a public organisation, and that the organisation is in some sort of trouble. The SND (Slovak National Theatre) is no exception. Its fourth director in five years is leaving after 500 days in office, following allegations of wasteful spending. His departure is starting a new round of debate about the purpose and vision of the organisation, whether the new head should be a manager, an artist, or a little bit of both, whether the drama, ballet, and opera sections should have complete independence or form three pillars of an integral part. It’s all been discussed before, and it will return again. Similar topics are characteristic of the discussions about RTVS – should public television and radio be merged or separated? Why does so much money get lost? What functions should the media serve?
Public universities, whether it’s UK (Comenius University), STU (Slovak University of Technology), or EU (University of Economics), have a good share of their own trouble.
Slovakia doesn’t have many examples of well-functioning public institutions. Instead, many of them are Small National Disasters.
26. Sep 2011 at 0:00 | Lukáš Fila