What is happening with the public-service broadcaster?

The RTVS management’s criticism of the #allforJan badges is just the tip of the iceberg, showing a divide between journalists and their managers. Here are some basics to understand what’s going on.

Jaroslav RezníkJaroslav Rezník (Source: TASR)

It started with management changes

The situation at the public-service RTVS has been a cause for concern among media freedom watchdogs after its current general director, Jaroslav Rezník, was elected to its top post in June 2017. There have been rumours of tension between Rezník’s management and the journalists working for the RTVS news desk, both for the TV and the radio service.

In January 2018, RTVS management decided to scrap the broadcaster’s only investigative show. After the critical response among the media community and the public, Rezník pledged to reintroduce the show on screens in September.

In February, head of the news desk and publicist journalism, Juraj Rybanský, and head of the TV newscast, Boris Chmel, announced they were leaving, the former for alleged health reasons, the latter for private reasons. But background information implies disputes between the newscast management and the journalistic team was behind this step.

Chmel and Rybanský were both former spokespeople who got positions in RTVS management. Rybanský was formerly a spokesperson for the Economy Ministry, while Chmel served as spokesperson for the rescue service. Former spokesperson of the University Hospital Bratislava, Petra Stano-Maťašovská, was appointed as head of Slovak Radio (SRo). Unlike Rybanský and Chmel, she still holds the post.

Read also:Why (not) Rezník? Read more 

Rybanský was replaced by former Education Ministry spokesman Vahram Chuguryan, another former ministerial spokesperson for Smer and SNS ministers.

Management frowns upon badges

Chuguryan’s name appeared in connection with the more recent controversy at the public-service broadcaster, when reporters said that he banned them from wearing the #allforJan badges on screen. Chuguryan argued that it was a recommendation rather than a ban. While he sees the badges as a political symbol that does not belong on the screen of a public-service broadcaster, journalists say the badges symbolise their solidarity with their murdered colleague and their determination to preserve media freedom in the country.

Nora Wehofsits, advocacy officer at the European Centre for Press & Media Freedom admits that there is a very thin line between activism and journalism and journalists do need to maintain their professional attitude and stay independent, but this case is different and they feel connected to the case.

“As there was a murder of the young journalist, it is absolutely clear there would be a wave of solidarity,” Pauline Adès-Mével, Head of EU-Balkans desk at Reporters Without Borders, told The Slovak Spectator.

The rest of this article is premium content at Spectator.sk
Subscribe now for full access

I already have subscription - Sign in

Subscription provides you with:
  • Immediate access to all locked articles (premium content) on Spectator.sk
  • Special weekly news summary + an audio recording with a weekly news summary to listen to at your convenience (received on a weekly basis directly to your e-mail)
  • PDF version of the latest issue of our newspaper, The Slovak Spectator, emailed directly to you
  • Access to all premium content on Sme.sk and Korzar.sk

Get daily Slovak news directly to your inbox

Top stories

Economic restart after COVID-19 should be green

Slovakia’s plan for using money from the EU’s Recovery Fund, innovation potential and examples of green solutions and the challenge of renovating buildings are among the highlights of the latest Business Focus.

The Velux plant in Partizánske utilises 97 percent of waste from production.

Cabinet agrees on COVID screening

More details will be presented tomorrow.

Košice

More tips for outings in Bratislava during the lockdown

Walks along the Danube bank offer a feeling of being far from the city rush.

This place, part of Ovsištské Lúky (Ovsište Meadows) in Petržalka, is still Bratislava.

Roundup: Fairytale app that makes children read

An award-winning design by a Slovak architect and a trip to Zádielska dolina valley. Here’s your latest roundup.

A man wearing a face covering sits in an armchair on the snow-covered Main Street in Košice on January 13, 2021.