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End of investigative show a cause for concern

Media freedom watchdogs believe the scrapping of the only investigative show on public-service television is a threat to its independence.

Jaroslav Rezník(Source: TASR)

Slovakia's only investigative reporting TV show has been "suspended" by the management of the current leadership of the public-service broadcaster.

When the parliament elected Jaroslav Rezník, former head of the state-run TASR newswire, as general director of the public-service radio and television, RTVS, in June, media freedom watchdogs warned that his actions in post should be watched closely. After just a few months, the Rezník-led RTVS management decided to cease the production of the investigative news show,Reportéri, on channel one of RTVS television.

This is not the first change that has provoked concern among the community of journalists in Slovakia. Earlier this month, changes were made to Dejiny.sk, a show that covers the history of Slovakia, on one of RTVS´s radio stations, Radio Regina. Itsauthors, Robert Kotian and Peter Turčík, will no longer host the talk show.

The RTVS management insists that they are not firing Kotian and Turčík, merely introducing two more presenters to the show.

“This is due to efforts to increase the variety of creative approaches and opinions of important dates of our modern history,” RTVS spokesperson, Erika Rusnáková, said, as quoted by the Denník N daily.

Investigative reporters end

The Reportéri investigative news programme on RTVS was one of the last of its kind on Slovak televisions.

The RTVS management argues that they suspended the show because it was of low quality, with a poor selection of cases and poor professional work. They also claim that opposing sides were not represented in a balanced way.

Read also:Press freedom is bleeding across our borders

The team of reporters who worked on the show were offered jobs with the Občan za Dverami (Citizen behind the Door) programme, which is labelled investigative but actually deals with various problems citizens encounter in their dealings with state offices.

Pavol Fejér, who has worked as an investigative TV reporter practically all of his career, refused the offer and quit his RTVS job. He says that the decision to scrap the show came out of the blue and the management of the broadcaster offers no guarantees, he told the Sme daily on January 15.

“I do not think it is appropriate for me to accept some substitute and pretend that nothing is happening,” Fejér told Sme.

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