Public Broadcaster Attempts to Deal With Debts

General director of the Slovak radio and TV broadcasting corporation RTVS, Miloslava Zemková, has an outstretched hand to the state in an attempt to sort out the debt situation at the company, which was established by a merger of the indebted radio and TV companies in January 2011.

old radio building (c) Tibor Macak, The Daily

Because of outstanding debts, the broadcaster has been unable to inject money into programmes or technology, and the RTVS management has already requested around EUR 45 million from the state to help clear the debts. It expects to receive just over half this amount, though.

Even though RTVS registered an almost EUR 5.5 million surplus for 1H 2011, the state still hasn’t provided it with money to clear the debts that it assumed from its two predecessors. Most of these debts are toward the TV signal broadcaster Towercom.

Zemková said that there is now a lot of pressure because of relations with Towercom and the whole debt situation, and she made it clear that RTVS could never fully settle its inherited debts on its own steam. The company has already abolished the sports channel STV3 and drawn up around 400 job cuts, almost one third of which have been effected already.

By law RTVS is to receive a minimum of EUR 90 million per year, and according to the latest proposal of the Ministry of Culture, in future this money will come directly from the state budget. At present the company also generates revenue from TV and radio licence fees, but a proposal was pushed forward by the government yesterday that will abolish these altogether, something that finance minister Ivan Miklos is not too happy about.

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