Slovak TV withdraws Czech children's series in breach of State Language Law

Slovakia's public service TV station STV has found itself in hot water recently, after showing the Czech puppet show Spejbl and Hurvinek. The problem is that the law says all programmes for children under 12 have to be dubbed into Slovak. So after only three days, the programme was withdrawn and replaced by a domestic series.

Spejbl and HurvinekSpejbl and Hurvinek Czech and Slovak are both Western Slavonic languages that share many similarities. The Law on the State Language of the Slovak Republic was passed in 1995, two years after the split of Czechoslovakia. Now, 12 years after the separation, do Slovaks find it difficult to understand the Czech language? That's a question I put to Martina Grenova from Radio Slovakia International.

"The situation is, I would say, different to the situation in the Czech Republic. While in the Czech Republic there are no - or really very rarely - some Slovak programmes screened. In Slovakia it is different. There are Czech films and Czech TV series being shown on Slovak public TV in the prime time. So it is not a problem for Slovaks to keep up with the Czech language."

How about children - are they having difficulties understanding Czech?

"On Slovak Television you can still see Czech classic pieces, for example, the film versions of famous fairy tales which were shot in the former Czechoslovakia in the 1950s or 1970s. And these fairy tales are aimed mainly at the children audience. So I would say that children are still in touch with the Czech language albeit they might not understand it as much as, for example, my generation did."