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Government parties argue over RTVS fees

The governmental SNS disagrees with part of government’s manifesto.

MP Anton Hrnko (Source: Sme)

The governmental Slovak National Party (SNS) will not currently support a Culture Ministry-sponsored motion to hike licence fees for public broadcaster Radio and Television Slovakia (RTVS), SNS vice-chair Anton Hrnko announced on June 1.

Connected to domestic electricity bills, the fees have to be paid by every Slovak household under the so-called Outlet Act. The pledge to hike them is part of  the Government’s Manifesto which both the SNS and Smer, which controls the culture Ministry, signed up to. The SNS refusal would thus go against this mutual agreement.

“What is in the Government’s Manifesto is sacred and it has to happen,” Fico told the press a day later without specifying whether this statement addresses fees.

Read also: Read also:Manifesto fails to reflect teacher demands

The fee per household currently stands at €4.64 per month and has not been subject to change for 13 years. The government has pledged to revisit the sum in its Manifesto as part of a legislative effort to provide RTVS with a stable and adequate budget necessary to meet its mission statement.

The Culture Ministry warns that if the motion is not approved in the first half of the government term, it will not be approved at all.

“It’s a political illusion to think that the fees could be hiked in the second half of the electoral term,” said ministry spokesman Jozef Bednár, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Slovak Television and Slovak Radio are currently operated under a senseless regime, according to Hrnko, who added that in the Slovak language the broadcaster has also a “grammatically incorrect single name”.

RTVS must first undergo a comprehensive internal revamp and become a genuine Slovak and national public broadcaster, according to Hrnko.

Bednár emphasised that bolstering the RTVS budget represents one of the fundamental priorities for Culture Minister Marek Madarič of Smer stemming from the passed Government Manifesto.

“Thus, the Culture Minister won’t be able to meet one of the key commitments,” said Bednár, as quoted by TASR.

Read also: Read also:Manifesto lacks concrete measures

This view was echoed by another coalition partner Most-Híd, which stated that every governing party should adhere to every item of the Manifesto.

“The licence fees must be hiked in order to improve the quality of public media, in the way it was presented by RTVS management, and not be tied into some vague conditions, as presented by SNS,” said Most-Híd caucus chair Gabor Gál, as quoted by TASR.

He also pointed to a gentleman’s agreement made by the coalition not to discuss differences of opinion in front of the media.

“We always respect the agreements and ask our coalition partners to do the same,” Gál said, as quoted by TASR.

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