Since coming to power in April 2022, the new Slovenian center-left government led by Prime Minister Robert Golob has continued with its pre-election promise to reform the country’s outdated media legislation and strengthen the independence of Radio-television Slovenia (RTV).
Central to this reform is a legislative effort to depoliticize the management of public broadcasting by restructuring its two main supervisory bodies, the programming and supervisory boards.
The challenges began as soon as the government submitted a draft amendment to the Broadcasting Act in July. At the same time, the new management in the publisher leads to constant accusations of pressure on journalists and editorial freedom.
Depoliticization of public broadcasting
“Today’s debate shows that a new broadcasting law is urgently needed. Public reckoning with employees, a trade unionist – all this points to poor management of the public service.” the newly appointed Minister of Culture Asta Vrecko said in the then parliament.
The amendment to the Act on RTV proposes changes to the management, management and control of RTV Slovenia. Instead of the existing program and control councils, which for many years have been considered a tool with which the new government stamps its influence on RTV through politicized appointments, the revised law would introduce a single management and control body, the RTV Council. This body would have 17 members, and civil society and RTV employees would play a decisive role.
“The goal is to remove politics from public broadcasting and ensure its institutional and programming autonomy,” the government’s official statement said. Vrečko added: “I don’t care who started this politicization. It’s important to me that we put an end to this.”
However, this reform process faces a major challenge from the largest opposition party, the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), which has criticized the initiative as a politically motivated and illegal attempt to remove the general director of RTVS, who was appointed during her government.
We are witnessing the beheading of RTV, the likes of which has never happened in the history of the country, SDS said after the adoption of the amendment.
The government included members of the SDS, including the Prime Minister at the time, Janez Janša accused the undermining of the integrity of public radio and television, the appointment of politicized personalities to the supervisory boards of RTVS and several slanders of some of its management and journalists.
On September 9, SDS wants to block the amendments started campaign to collect the 40,000 signatures needed to call for a legislative referendum on the proposed reforms.
“The amendment recklessly introduces a new management and control body, which, under the guise of depoliticization, abolishes the program and control councils that ensure impartiality and balance,” SDS announced. said during the signature campaign entitled “against the politicization of RTV”. SDS did not respond to questions about their criticism of the novella for this article.
Back in July, Prime Minister Golob commented on the opposition’s referendum initiative: “It is an abuse of the referendum law to stop the executive or legislative power.”
The second largest opposition party Nova Slovenija (Christian Democrats) also opposed the amendment to the broadcasting law.
“In principle, we support greater involvement of civil society in the RTV Council, but the amendment actually excludes part of civil society. Representatives could only be appointed by some civil society organizations, which, in our opinion, do not represent a wide range of viewers and listeners with different views and beliefs,” the party wrote in a written response to this article.
Nova Slovenija announced that it will not actively join SDS in collecting signatures for the referendum.
SDS now has until October 5 to collect the necessary signatures of support. After that, the initiator of the referendum has seven days to file a request. If this is complete, the National Assembly then has seven days to announce a referendum by decree.
RTV under pressure
While the political confrontation continues, RTVS has become embroiled in internal disputes between journalists and the new management.
The situation has worsened since last April, when 37-year-old lawyer Andrej Grah Whatmough treview management of RTVS. Internal disputes further intensified in June, when Uroš Urbanija, former editor of the Slovenian Press Agency and former head of the Government Office for Communication (UKOM) in the government of former Prime Minister Janez Janša, He was named as director of public TV.
Both are said to be politically connected to Janša. While Urbanija was led by UKOM, this body suspended funding of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) due to a legal dispute, which brought it to the point of bankruptcy and drew harsh criticism from EU leaders.
“Urbanija, the former head of the Government Communications Office, is distinctly political and biased, and his media history leaves traces of unprofessionalism, bullying, conflicts with journalist collectives and personal vendettas”; of the journalists’ union said when he urgently How about not naming Urbanius.
IPI asked Urbanija to respond to these allegations. Urbanija only commented on the accusations in a separate interview, in which he is the only interlocutor.
Receivables Several journalists have reported on harassment and pressure in recent months.
“What is happening now has crossed all boundaries of decency, professionalism and common sense,” said one of the most influential Slovenian television commentators, Igor Bergant, recently. said about what’s happening on RTV.
Another TV presenter, Saša Kranjc, said: “It happens that we have to publish stories that we do not know, that the editor requests the withdrawal of a statement from the story and that we are prohibited from publishing the news. “
As a sign of support, journalists have gathered twice so far during the news program alert the audience to problems. They also wanted to show off support for colleagues who were endangered Urbanija with a “disciplinary measure” among them the aforementioned Kranjc and the editor Vesna Pfeiffer.
“The new management cancels the programs, cuts the news program and violates the program-production plan, which already seriously threatens the public’s information about what is happening at home and around the world, and thus the public’s right to be informed,” the TV Slovenija news program wrote in a press release.
Journalists and media workers also held several strikes organized by trade unions. Various open letters were published and sent to Prime Minister Golob director of RTV and director of TV.
“We are witnessing a kind of staging of an epic confrontation: the administration, supervisory and program council clash with the press team on a political mission to demolish the house,” explained media analyst Boris Vezjak. “In between are the extras, most of them looking away and not getting involved.”