Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Press freedom in Slovakia is constitutionally guaranteed and generally respected, and independent media outlets freely disseminate diverse views. Defamation is not a criminal offense, and in a break from the pattern of recent years, no new civil defamation cases were brought before the courts in 2006. In one case that was pending, a court in February ordered a daily newspaper to apologize and pay damages of US$100,000 to a former Supreme Court judge for reporting on bonuses paid to court members and alleged improprieties in assigning cases to judges. A new media bill that has lingered in draft form since 2005 was not passed in 2006, though the Parliament approved several amendments to current legislation that improved the oversight of public service media. The existing Press Act, which has been in force for 40 years, is widely considered to be inadequate to the needs of a modern media market, particularly with respect to the regulation of digital media.
Political pressures on the media in 2006 were low for an election year. The only notable incident was an alleged attempt in October by the Office of the Prime Minister to interfere with the public broadcaster’s reporting about the prime minister’s trips abroad. Most Slovak media outlets, including all major print outlets, are privately owned. Following legislative changes in 2004, the heads of state-owned media enterprises are no longer political appointees, and generally journalists in both print and electronic media exercise broad editorial independence. A lack of transparency in media ownership remains a concern, as does inadequate enforcement of regulations on cross-ownership of media outlets. Electronic media are diverse and pluralistic, and many Slovak citizens also regularly watch television from the neighboring Czech Republic and Hungary. Slovaks enjoy growing access to the internet, though the proportion of users (nearly 47 percent of the population) is among the lowest in the European Union. Public authorities in 2006 redoubled their efforts to increase internet access in the schools and subsidize access in homes.