Slovakia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Slovakia

Slovakia

Freedom of the Press 2008

2008 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

22

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

9

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

7

Press freedom in Slovakia is constitutionally guaranteed and generally respected, and independent media outlets freely disseminate diverse views. Defamation is not a criminal offense, though some other types of expression—such as Holocaust denial—can, and have been, sanctioned with criminal prosecutions. In 2007, legislators drafted the new Press Act; press freedom advocates criticized several of its provisions, including restrictions on content, the powers of intervention granted to the state executive, and the right of correction and mandatory access to media by interested parties (with no possibility of editorial intervention in terms of content or space). In a surprise decision, the Slovak Supreme Court refused to recognize the overturning of a libel verdict by the European Court of Human Rights, effectively upholding the original decision of a lower Slovak court.

Journalists in both print and electronic media exercise broad editorial independence, and in general the heads of state-owned media enterprises are no longer political appointees. However, media freedom advocates noted that the new management of Slovak Public Television (STV) seemed to be exerting pressure on editors and journalists to provide more favorable coverage of the government. Nearly one-third of the staff of STV news programs quit amid allegations of political interventions in editorial policy. The atmosphere of pressure was enhanced by statements and parliamentary hearings on the media in which, in the opinion of media advocates, parliament impinged on the oversight role of other institutions. During the year, the prime minister also asked the prosecutor general to investigate a number of journalists who were reporting on government corruption allegations. Critics claimed that this move was an intentional act of intimidation against the media.

Most Slovak media outlets, including all major print outlets, are privately owned. 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 neighboring Czech Republic and Hungary. Slovaks enjoy growing access to the internet; although the government does not censor most content, it does monitor websites hosting hate speech and has, at times, attempted to fine the authors of such sites. Just over 40 percent of the population enjoyed regular internet service in 2007, including the majority of teenagers and young adults.