Slovakia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Slovakia

Slovakia

Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

21

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

9

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

7

Press freedom in Slovakia is constitutionally guaranteed and generally respected. Although defamation was decriminalized in 2003, individuals still target media outlets in civil defamation suits that demand excessive compensation. In December 2004, the Bratislava regional court ordered the daily Sme to pay 3 million Slovak koruny (approximately US$96,750) as compensation for libeling a Supreme Court judge. Following this event, local nongovernmental organizations pointed out that many Slovak journalists, fearing potential financial ruin, might choose to abstain from publishing stories critical of public figures, compromising an essential role that the press plays in a democratic society.

Independent media outlets freely publish and disseminate diverse views. Most Slovak media are privately owned. A parliament-appointed council and the state-funded press agency TASR control the public broadcaster STV. Some Slovak media still experience government interference. Economy Minister Pavol Rusko continues to influence editorial policies of the popular TV Markiza even after he divested his ownership in the company. A military court ruled that an illegal wiretap targeted a major national newspaper rather than Pavol Rusko, who had complained of being wiretapped. Three security officers were charged with abuse of power.

Print media in Slovakia are undergoing economic troubles as the largest share of advertising funds is channeled into the television market. In efforts to attract advertising revenues, the competition has compelled even serious newspapers to turn toward tabloidization. This trend is more visible among Slovak weeklies. The government does not restrict access to the Internet; approximately 20 percent of the population uses the Internet periodically to obtain information.