Bratislava, Slovakia – The first Slovak TV station dedicated to the country’s Romani community will go on air on April 8 to celebrate International Romani Day. Operated by the Bratislava-based Slov Media Group, TV Romana will be distributed on the Slovak B2B platform operator Pantelio.
Free-to-air (FTA) and available to all users at first, TV Romana will then be encrypted with Panaccess and made available only to Pantelio customers. Trial broadcasts began earlier this week after TV Romana received a licence from Slovakia’s Broadcast and Retransmission Council (RRTV) on March 20.
According to Parabola, under the license terms, TV Romana will broadcast at least 75% of original programs while the remaining 25% of air time will be filled with news broadcasts.
Numbering half a million and making up an estimated 10 percent of Slovakia’s population, the Romani form the second-largest ethnic minority in Slovakia, after Hungarians. Living mainly in the eastern parts of the country, most of the population tends to suffer disproportionately from higher rates of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, crime and disease.
“The number of Roma living in unbearable conditions in rural communities and devastated central city zones is agglomerating and represents a potentially very serious societal, social and economic problem,” says Klara Orgovanova, a Slovak psychologist.
Citing widespread discrimination and low education levels, a November 2014 policy paper by the Institute for Financial Policy claims that the employment rate of Roma aged 15 to 64 sat merely at 17 percent. The paper also found that nearly 40 percent of the adult Romani population existed entirely outside the labour market, with those who could work often doing so in the black market.
“The discrimination against Roma remains widespread,” reads a recent Amnesty International report pointing at Slovakia’s failure to address the systemic segregation of Roma children in education.