Nikola Belakova

Nikola Belakova

PhD Researcher

Department of Media and Communications

Key Expertise
Media Policy

About me

Research Topic

Defamation, Privacy and Freedom of Expression.  A Socio-Legal Study of the Interplay between the Slovak Personality/Goodwill Protection Regime and Journalism, 1996-2016

Employing a comparative exploratory research strategy I set out to examine the operation of civil defamation law in cases involving the media in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. My research is driven by an empirical puzzle. Despite identical basic civil defamation provisions anchored in the Civil Code of 1964, anecdotal evidence suggests that defamation law operates differently in the two jurisdictions. In the Czech Republic, there have been hardly any reports of defamation threats against media. In the few existing cases, media would usually succeed. In contrast, the tendency of Slovak elites to file defamation claims against media has intensified since 2008. In Slovakia, defamation is thus widely considered a deliberate attempt to weaken critical media coverage. The case of defamation law in the Czech Republic and Slovakia thus requires a systematic examination of the actual operation of the law, investigating the frequency and outcomes of litigation and/or the threat thereof, the identity of claimants, as well as how law shapes journalism; be it in terms of a ‘chilling effect’, or the practices adopted to deal with defamation. It also raises questions as to what are the factors that interplay with the ‘law-on-the-books’ to produce such apparent divergent experience for journalists in the two jurisdictions.

Research Interests: democracy and democratisation and the media in Central and Eastern Europe, media regulation and policy and its influence on journalism, civil society and public spheres, judicial decision-making, political communication.

Supervisors: Professor Terhi Rantanen and Dr Andrew Scott (Law Department)


I am a full ESRC Doctoral Training Centre Studentship holder. In my PhD research I have also been supported by grants from Slovak foundations Nadacia SPP and Nadacia Tatra Banky. I hold an M.Phil degree in Russian and East European Studies from Christ Church, University of Oxford and a BA (Hons) in European Studies and German from King’s College London. I spent a year abroad during my undergraduate studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Humboldt University in Berlin. I provided research assistance for the ‘Media and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe’ ERC-funded research project based at Oxford and LSE, and interned with the Slovak Foreign Ministry and the Slovak Diplomatic Mission to the United Nations in New York. Besides English, I am fluent in Slovak, Czech and German, and have an advanced knowledge of Russian.

Publications and Conferences

Belakova, Nikola. In press. “Drawing the Line Between Security and Privacy. An Analysis of Security Discourses in the US Press, 2010-2013.” Prague SECONOMICS Discussion Papers.

Belakova, Nikola. 2013. “Analysing How Law Shapes Journalism in Central and Eastern Europe: The Case of the 2008 Slovak Press Act.” Global Media and Communication,October 15, 2013. Online. Doi: 10.1177/1742766513504173

Belakova, Nikola. 2013. “Surveillance Cameras Everywhere You Look. The Portrayal of the Security vs. Privacy Dilemma in the Slovak Press, 2010-2013.” Prague SECONOMICS Discussion Papers, 2013/2.

Belakova, Nikola and Silvana Tarlea. 2013. “How National Parliaments Legislate the Media in CEE: The Adoption and Implementation of Media Legislation in the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia.”

Belakova, Nikola. 2013. “Interview with Professor Iveta Radičová.” Online.