Ousted Slovak TV chief spurs demonstrations
PRAGUE — Another Tuesday trauma swirled through the corridors of Markiza TV. This time previously ousted general manager Pavel Rusko responded with calls to the public to protect Markiza against private security agents trying to enter the Batislava station.
The aim of the populist “coup” (as employees termed the action) was a protest against self-appointed general manager Marian Kocner, representing new, legally challenged license holder Gamatex.
Rusko said he received a noontime telephone call informing him that he, his wife (the news editor at Markiza) and news director Stanislaw Pavlik were fired.
Markiza interrupted its signal twice on Tuesday afternoon at Rusko’s directive. A public appeal resulted in supporters gathering at the station by late afternoon, and a late evening rally by opposition leaders.
The demonstration was expected to continue through the night, with more demonstrations of support for Markiza scheduled for other Slovak cities.
Station insiders are calling the battleground atmosphere a political issue as the hotly contested Slovak general election draws near.
Interference of broadcast content is cited as a cause for timing of the action.
Pulling out all the stops in his attempt to retain a grip on the country, nationalist prime minister Vladimir Meciar has done his best to restrict any positive political coverage of the opposition.
Slovak media reports that Meciar has even hired a cadre of international media stars to decorate his political rallies.
U.S.-owned CME, co-owner of Markiza, continues to support Rusko and to question the legality of the Gamatex takeover one month ago.