EBU concerned about future of public media in Slovenia
The letter, addressed to the Slovenian government, parliament, Culture Ministry and relevant parliamentary committee, points out that public broadcaster RTV Slovenija "has been exposed to a series of hostile and frequently unsubstantiated comments over the last months".
The EBU is also concerned over "the exceptionally short time envisaged for public debate on potential changes to the legal and financial frameworks of Slovenia's national public media".
The alliance goes on to highlight that the broadcaster plays a vital role in society and continued to play it during the Covid-19 crisis.
RTV Slovenija remit "requires adequate, stable, and predictable funding to serve all segments of society and offer programmes for all groups and minorities with a high level of commitment and professionalism," says the EBU, highlighting that the proposed changes to the act governing the broadcaster would also result in a budget cut of EUR 13 million.
"This significant change requires appropriate debate with all relevant stakeholders, in line with common democratic practice in Europe."
The alliance notes that RTV Slovenija licence fee has been "unchanged since 2012, whereas content and quality demands have constantly increased in a fast-developing economic, social and technological environment".
The EBU urges the relevant authorities to provide proper time for discussing the proposed media reform as well as allow for appropriate debate on public media's role in society and the resources needed to fulfil their remit.
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) joined the EBU's warnings and calls saying that they were most concerned over the proposed changes to the funding of public service media in Slovenia and the extremely short period of five days for public discussion.
EFJ director Renate Schroeder said in a joint statement of all the three organisations that RTV Slovenija's independence would be at great risk if the changes were implemented without any further amendments. The Covid-19 pandemic has once again highlighted the key role of public media, she added.
SEEMO secretary general Oliver Vujović pointed out that in these challenging times, a well-funded, independent and strong Slovenian public broadcaster was needed more than ever. "We need an open public discussion according to international standards, and all important stakeholders who may be affected by the change should have their say in the process."
Last Thursday, the ministry unveiled a media reform blueprint involving extensive changes to the media act, the act on RTV Slovenija and the act on the Slovenian Press Agency (STA). The changes are subject to public debate until Wednesday.
The amendments as well as the short time provided for public consultation have triggered strong criticism, including from the Journalists' Association (DNS), trade unions representing the workers of RTV Slovenija, the STA management and staff, and the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA).