Slovakia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Slovakia

Slovakia

Freedom of the Press 2006

2006 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

20

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

8

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

7

Press freedom is constitutionally guaranteed and generally respected. Independent media outlets freely publish and disseminate diverse views. Although defamation was decriminalized in 2003, some media outlets and individuals continue to be beleaguered with civil defamation suits. In April, Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda filed a libel suit against the publisher of the daily Pravda, demanding approximately 125,000 euros (US$156,500) in damages and an apology for a series of articles that appeared in the paper in autumn 2003. In December, Pravda was ordered to pay approximately 75,000 euros (US$93,900) in damages to former Supreme Court president Stefan Harabin for a series of articles published about him between summer 2002 and February 2003. Media watchdogs believe there is some measure of self-censorship. A draft of a new Media Law was prepared in 2005 and was generally well received, though there was criticism of provisions requiring the accreditation of freelance journalists and introducing constraints on recording and reporting on confidential conversations.

Most important Slovak media are privately owned, with the exception of TASR, the state-run press agency, and public service broadcasters. Following legislative changes in 2004, the heads of state-owned media enterprises are no longer political appointees, and journalists have increasing editorial independence. A lack of transparency in media ownership in the private sector remains an issue. Electronic media became more diverse this year thanks to new and stronger players in the television sector and the growing market share of private radio broadcasters. Local broadcast media are often affiliated with local governments and at times act more as mouthpieces of local authorities and less as independent sources of information. Print media are dominated by two large dailies and a broad network of regional publications; the landscape is diverse, but there is a disturbing trend away from fact-based public interest journalism and toward sensationalism. Access to the internet in unconstrained, and the number of regular users, currently at 42 percent of the population, continues to grow.