Legislative framework

The rights and obligations of broadcasters, retransmission operators and providers of audiovisual media channels are for conditions in the Slovak Republic explained on request and they are stated in the Act No 308/2000 Coll., on Broadcasting and Retransmission in the wording of later regulations. This act prescribes conditions for the award of licences for radio and television broadcasting, defines the basic rights and obligations of broadcasters as well as the basic framework and conditions of broadcasting. It also defines the special obligations of broadcasters when broadcasting programmes in the public interest, advertising, and teleshopping, stipulates the basic conditions for the protection of human dignity, humanity and children, and the right to have data corrected if it is wrong. This act has also established the Council for Broadcasting and Retransmission (RTVS) which, within the meaning of the law, furthers the interests of the public in exercising the right to information, the freedom of expression and the right of access to cultural values and education and administers state regulation in the area of broadcasting and retransmission in the scope defined by law. This board has nine members that are elected and removed by the National Council of the Slovak Republic. Candidates for membership on the board are nominated by Members of Parliament, professional institutions and civil associations operating in the area of audiovision, mass information media, culture, science, education, sport, registered churches and religious societies, and civil associations of citizens with disabilities through the Co-ordination Committee for the Issues of Persons with Disabilities of the Slovak Republic. The council selects from among its members the Chairperson and Vice-chairperson of the Council.
The most important change since public broadcasting was established in Slovakia was the amendment of its form in 2010. By the adoption of the Act 532/2010 Coll., on Radio and Television Slovakia and on the transformation and amending some acts a statutory national independent information cultural and educational institution Radio and Television Slovakia – RTVS was established which offers public service in the area of radio and television broadcasting. RTVS arose by a merger of Slovak Radio and Slovak Television and it started broadcasting on 1 January 2011. RTVS performs its main activities through its organisational components – Slovak Radio that offers its listeners radio broadcasting and Slovak Television that provides the public with the television broadcasting services.
The programming of RTVS comprises news, current affairs, documentaries, drama, arts, music, sports, light entertainment and educational programmes and programmes for children and youth. The programmes are in accordance with the law all based on the principles of democracy and humanism, which contribute to the legal awareness, ethical awareness and environmental responsibility of citizens of the Slovak Republic. The programmes provide impartial, verified, undistorted, topical, comprehensible and balanced information in terms of representation and plurality of information of events in the Slovak Republic and abroad. Programmes of RTVS should, with their content, develop the cultural identity of the SR population regardless of their gender, race, skin colour, language, age, religion, church, political persuasion or other beliefs, national or social background, belonging to a national or ethnic group, fortune, family background or other position in the society so that they should reflect the diversity of political, religious and philosophical opinions as well as artistic genres and thus they should support the development of knowledge-based society.
The main activities of RTVS include running of at least two TV channels through two whole-area terrestrial analogue circuits until analogue broadcasting will be abandoned in the territory of the Slovak republic and at least four radio stations, of which concentrates on broadcasting balanced programmes as to the content so to the region in the languages of national minorities and ethnic groups living in Slovakia. After changing to digital terrestrial broadcasting RTVS provides broadcasting through statutory terrestrial multiplex, in which at least two channels must be TV channels. In addition, RTVS must ensure the major share of programmes in the interest of public on each TV channel and radio station as well as regional broadcasting through radio and television studios. Regional broadcasting of every studio must include balanced contributions within the whole territory of its scope. Programming of RTVS must also respect the needs of the deaf and other social minorities, offer space to the registered churches and religious groups; bring live transmission and records of certain socially important events from the political, cultural, religious, artistic and sporting life. RTVS also creates and runs the archives which include documents on broadcasting. RTVS is their author and protector and it also opens them to the public.
RTVS bodies include the General Manager and the Board. The general Manager heads the activities of RTVS, acts on its behalf, decides about all substantial questions concerning broadcasting and it submit relevant documents on RTVS activities to the Board to be discussed. GM is voted by the National Council of the Slovak Republic following the proposals of the responsible committee of the National Council and public hearings of all nominated candidates. GM stays in office for five years and it is possible to vote the same GM at most twice in the subsequent office periods.
The Board has a supervisory function; they oversee if obligations resulting for RTVS from the Act 532/2010 Coll., on Radio and Television Slovakia and on the transformation and amending some acts and obligations resulting from special by-laws are being fulfilled. The Board also supervises if the public financial means of RTVS are used in an economical, efficient and reasonable way. The Board annually submits a report on their activities to a responsible committee of the National Council of the SR together with their opinion statement as well as an annual report on RTVS activities of the previous year. The Board has nine members; they are elected by the National Council by the majority of all present MPs. The MPs must elect on the Board three professionals in the area of radio broadcasting, three professionals in the area of TV broadcasting, two professionals in the area of economy and one professional in the area of law. Candidates for Board members are proposed to the responsible committee of the National Council by legal persons working in the area of audiovision, media, culture, economy, law, science, education, development and protection of intellectual and spiritual values, human rights and environment, health protection; representing or advocating the interests of national minorities and ethnic groups, other minorities or registered churches and religious societies.
With the adoption of the Act No. 343/2007 Coll., on Conditions of Registration, Public Distribution and the Storage of Audiovisual works, Sound and Picture Recordings of Artistic Performances and Multimedia Works (referred to as “Audiovisual Act”); unified system of classification and marking of audiovisual works, sound recordings of artistic performances, multimedia works and programmes or different components of programme services by their age level suitability from the point of view of their inaccessibility (X- ratedness (adults only)), appropriateness or unsuitability for children under the age of 7, 12, 15 or 18 years was introduced in conditions of Slovak media scene. The aim of the adoption of the unified system of classification is to protect minors from unsuitable contents while paying attention to characteristic features of single age groups and to increase awareness about offered contents.
The details of this system are provided under the Regulation of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic No 589/2007 Coll., where basic and unified rules are laid down for the assessment of content and subsequent classification and labelling of works and programmes from the point of view of their X-ratedness, inappropriateness or appropriateness for particular age groups of minors, using graphic symbols. The labelling of programmes in broadcasting with graphic symbols enables parents and the public to get a better orientation in selecting age-appropriate content for particular groups of minors.
The most-substantial change, which concerns broadcasting, is the transition from analogue to digital TV broadcasting. Conditions of the transition and a digital broadcasting itself as well as the rights and obligations of natural persons and competences of the public administration bodies in this area are laid down in the Act No.220/2007 Coll., on Digital Broadcasting of Programme Services and on Provision of other Content Services Through Digital Transmission and on amendments to several acts (the Digital Broadcasting Act). The transition to the digital broadcasting was finished in 2012.