Regulatory authorities

The main digital/electronic media regulator in Slovakia is the Council for Broadcasting and Retransmission (RVR). There are some aspects of electronic/digital media regulation, which are under control of other authorities, such as the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Postal Services (RU) that regulates issues related to the frequency spectrum, or Slovak Trade Inspection that regulates some aspects of the advertising in electronic media, but not the vast majority.

The RVR is an administrative authority sui generis. It is not part of the governmental administration and it is not supervised by the Government or a particular governmental authority. The Statute of the RVR explicitly mentions in its article 3 that the RVR is an ‘independent organ’, but it also defines the RVR, in the line with BA, as a ‘nation-wide organ of state administration’.

The nine RVR members are elected by the National Council of Slovakia (the Slovak Parliament) that also approves the regulator’s annual report and dismisses members of the RVR in case of specifically defined breaches of conduct (Article 9(2) of the BA). The members of the RVR are elected for 6-year terms with one third of the members changing every two years. The head of the RVR is its chairperson. He/she represents the RVR publicly and presides over its meetings that usually take place twice a month. Day-to-day business of the RVR is carried out by the Office of the RVR that has approximately 30 employees.

The Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic (PMU) is an independent central body of public administration for the protection of competition. The PMU intervenes in cases of cartels, abuse of a dominant position, vertical agreements. Moreover, it controls mergers that meet the notification criteria. This is particularly related to acquisitions and mergers (in the case of media, mainly concentrations, vertical agreements and in one case abuse of dominant position on the market) and of various media publishers or media owners in general. The PMU is interested only in cases of evident abuse of dominant position of actors on the market.

One of the first decisions of PMU (2004/FH/3/1/021) related to the media dealt with acquisition by Ringier AG of tabloid newspaper Nový čas and weekly Nový čas pre ženy published by Gruner+Jahr Aktiengesellschaft a B.V. Tabora/ Druck-und Verlagshaus Gruner+Jahr Aktiengesellschaft a Rotenri Investments B.V. The acquisition was approved. The decision had 4,500 words.

The most recent decision (June 2016) was related to concentration. Penta Investments Limited together with Prvá slovenská investičná skupina, previous co-owner, took over Petit Press, publisher of the main agenda-setting newspaper (as well as some other media outlets).

A year earlier, the PMU (2015/FH/3/1/011) dealt with the highly sensitive acquisition by Penta Investments Limited taking indirect but full control over publishing houses Spoločnosť 7 Plus, a.s. (newspaper Plus Jeden Deň, weekly Plus 7 dní) Media Magazín, a.s., and Trend Holding, spol. s r.o. (business-economy weekly Trend). The decision counted 28 pages which suggests how serious the analysis behind it was.

Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Postal Services – RÚ (previously Telecommunication Office). The RU manages the broadcasting frequency spectrum jointly with the Ministry of Transport, Post and Telecommunications. The RU updates plans of utilization of the broadcast frequency spectrum every two years in cooperation with the RVR.

The Ministry of Culture as the central body of the state administration prepares the basic concept of State media policies and most media legislation drafts. In the case of digital broadcasting, it keeps a public register of providers of content services in case there is a duty to register such services. The Ministry of Culture also keeps register of printed media, including ownership structures.