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Media to be monitored during campaign

THE NEXT two weeks will see candidates for the eight regional governorships spend tens or even hundreds of thousands of euros on meetings, billboards, concerts, leaflets, pens and key rings that belong to campaigning folklore. Television, though, remains a powerful campaigning tool, and media watchdogs are already pledging to monitor the news and debates broadcast during the campaign.

(Source: SME)

THE NEXT two weeks will see candidates for the eight regional governorships spend tens or even hundreds of thousands of euros on meetings, billboards, concerts, leaflets, pens and key rings that belong to campaigning folklore. Television, though, remains a powerful campaigning tool, and media watchdogs are already pledging to monitor the news and debates broadcast during the campaign.

Elections will take place on November 9, preceded by a 48-hour-long moratorium on campaigning, but the campaigns will pick up steam until then as October 23 saw the launch of billboards with political advertising. Candidates are allowed to spend without limits as the Interior Ministry still has not come up with the draft amendment to the Election Code that would curb campaign spending.

Costs of the campaign

Gubernatorial candidates for Slovakia’s eight self-governing regions (known under the acronym VÚC) will spend tens of thousands of euros in the next two weeks. Spending will be highest in Bratislava Region, where the incumbent Pavol Frešo, head of the opposition Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) will spend €100,000 from his own resources, according to the Hospodárske Noviny daily. His main competitor, Smer MEP Monika Flašíková-Beňová, will spend the most of all the candidates, approximately €200,000 from her own resources and the resources of the party, according to the daily. Daniel Krajcer, the candidate of the NOVA party, originally planned to spend €150,000, but at the start of the campaign admitted the sum might be higher, according to Hospodárske Noviny.

While opposition candidates mostly finance their campaigns from their own resources, the ruling Smer contributes about €33,000 to those running for regional governor posts, the daily wrote. The parties are ready to provide non-financial support to their candidates, too. Prime Minister Robert Fico, who also chairs his Smer party, said he will campaign on behalf of Smer candidates.

“If my trips combine with activities that are part of the election campaign of our candidates, I do not rule out I will appear in some of the meetings, I count on that,” Fico said, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

Rules for the media

Much of the regional election campaign will take place through broadcast media. The Council for Broadcasting and Retransmission, also known as the Licensing Council, has launched special monitoring for the campaign.

The council will monitor 28 news and feature programmes of eight broadcasters: the two channels of the public-service television, as well as private TV channels Markíza, JOJ, TA3; and public-service radio services Radio Slovensko, Radio Regina Bratislava (regional radio service) and Radio Patria (radio service for minorities).

“Alongside the planned monitoring the council will also control the broadcasting based on complaints and motions from natural and legal persons,” council spokesperson Lucia Jelčová said.

The council will mainly focus on the broadcasters’ observing their basic duties: to be objective and impartial, and to secure plurality in opinions in their broadcasting, according to Jelčová.
Political advertising is banned. Internet or on-demand media are not subject to such restrictions.
Broadcasters are obliged to provide information on all candidates, political parties and movements running in the elections.

News cannot be reported in a way that gives a particular candidate or party an advantage or disadvantage. Political debates should provide balanced space to all candidates and secure them equal opportunities for presentation.

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