Slovak parliament passes controversial media bill

Other News Materials 10 April 2008 00:39 (UTC +04:00)

Slovakia's governing coalition lawmakers passed a controversial media law Wednesday that is seen by publishers and human rights groups as a threat to the freedom of the press. ( dpa )

The right-wing parliamentary opposition lost a high-stakes battle over the bill with the centre-left government led by Prime Minister Robert Fico.

The opposition lawmakers failed to force the premier sufficiently to alter the law, by blocking the ratification of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty painstakingly negotiated to reform institutions of the enlarged 27-member bloc.

The 85-strong governing coalition is in need of five opposition votes, as a majority of 90 in the 150-seat house is required to approve the treaty.

The parliament may vote on the treaty again on Thursday, the CTK news agency reported.

The opposition, publishers and human rights groups have complained that the bill will grant readers and institutions expansive rights to respond to published articles.

The bill, which has been criticized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), was also going to introduce penalties for stories approving of wars or drugs, but the government dropped that provision.

Premier Fico, who refused to make further changes to the disputed bill, has often clashed with the media, accusing them of siding with the opposition since his rise to power in 2006.