SHE WAS supposed to serve as the first general director of the newly merged public-service broadcaster Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS) for five years. But after less than 18 months, Miloslava Zemková now faces dismissal after the ruling Smer party acted to remove her. Her departure seems all but certain now that a motion to that effect has been tabled by the chair of parliament’s media committee, Smer MP Dušan Jarjabek.
Jarjabek alleges that Zemková is being removed because she broke the law governing RTVS. In fact, this is the only legitimate grounds on which parliament is able to dismiss the head of the public-service broadcaster. The Culture Ministry’s power to appoint or remove the office-holder was eliminated by the previous government. The parties that made up that government, who are now in opposition, say that the action to dismiss Zemková is an attempt by Smer to take control of RTVS.
Smer took control of the government after winning a clear majority in the March general election and its strength means the opposition can do little to stop the process in parliament.
Nevertheless, Zemková sought an interim judgement at a district court to block her dismissal, the Sme daily reported.
She also said that she had requested three independent legal opinions, all of which confirmed that she had not legally erred.
The main reason cited in the proposal to dismiss Zemková was her announcement of a process to rent out premises owned by RTVS without informing the RTVS Council, the governing body of the broadcaster.
Jarjabek said that the tender had been announced on April 3, 2012 and that the RTVS Council had only found out later, something which he asserts represents a violation of the law, the TASR newswire reported on June 12.
“I hate to do this because the law is wrong,” Jarjabek said, as quoted by TASR. “However, my hands are tied here.”
He added that if the parliamentary committee had not taken any action, it would itself have been in breach of the law.
The opposition has dismissed his explanation. Former culture minister Daniel Krajcer, who is now an MP for the opposition party Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party and under whom RTVS was created, said that it is outrageous and incredibly arrogant to have the committee vote on the issue without first hearing from all the involved parties.
“Let’s invite all parties involved to the next session of the committee,” he said, as quoted by TASR. “I consider that to be basic decency ... as this approach reeks of great hastiness.”
He specifically criticised the fact that the media committee of parliament had not invited Zemková to explain the situation, even though she was attending a session of the committee on the same day that Jarjabek submitted his proposal. She presented the annual report on management of RTVS that was approved by MPs, Sme wrote.
Krajcer also pointed out that announcing a tender did not necessarily mean that a contractual agreement would be signed. His view was shared by fellow opposition committee members Jozef Viskupič of Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) and László Solymos of Most-Híd.
However, Jarjabek responded that he was only adhering to Krajcer’s law on RTVS, describing it as “flawed” and saying that “we did not violate it one single inch”.
“However, it is bad and needs to be completely revamped from A to Z,” he claimed.
Zemková said that she had had some inkling of moves to have her fired. In an interview with Sme she said that there must be some other reason for her firing, since the “way and speed with which the dismissal is taking place indicates as much”.
She cast doubt on the reasons presented by Jarjabek and said that the RTVS Council had approved her decision to start a competitive tender.
“The law on RTVS does not regulate the duty of the general director to inform the council about announced public tenders beforehand,” she told Sme, adding that she has been talking about the tender since July 2011.
Meanwhile, the chair of the RTVS Council, Miroslav Kollár, confirmed that it had learned about the tender only after it was launched. However, he said he was not sure whether this in itself could be interpreted as a violation of the law.
Jarjabek responded that the violation of law was confirmed by the parliamentary legislative committee, adding that the law states that the general director of RTVS has to inform the RTVS Council about any intention to sign an agreement.
However, the law does not specify what should happen if the director does not do so, something which Jarjabek said was an error made by the previous government in drafting the law, Sme wrote.
The Pravda daily reported at the beginning of May that Smer was planning to prepare an amendment to the law governing RTVS to remove what the party said were deficiencies.
“The law has to be amended, but not in order to change the management,” Jarjabek told Pravda at the time, adding that he was d
issatisfied with the law, not with Zemková.
In a comment which appeared to reveal that he was already considering Zemková’s departure, he added: “The new general director will not change anything until other things, legislation and money, are solved in parliament.”
At around the same time, several names emerged in the media as possible candidates for post of general director .
18. Jun 2012 at 0:00 | Radka Minarechová