The Slovenia Times

Committee calls for sufficient funding of RTV Slovenija and STA


The decision to provide sufficient funding was made in a nine to seven vote after ten hours of debate preceded by a a rally by journalists against the planned changes, under which a substantial chunk of RTV Slovenija funding would be divided between other media, and STA supervisors would be appointed by the government and no longer by the parliament.

The committee also adopted a decision that the changes should take into account the STA's and RTV Slovenija's special status of public institutions of national and cultural significance with institutional and programming autonomy, editorial independence and sufficient funding.

While this decision was backed by not only opposition MPs but also by the junior coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and Modern Centre Party (SMC), the senior coalition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) voted against.

The committee threw out a proposal of the opposition Social Democrats (SD) to shelve the changes to the act on RTV Slovenija, the STA and the media act.

The session was called by the opposition SD, the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), the Left and the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) after the Culture Ministry presented the changes, allowing only five working days for the public consultation, which would have ended on Wednesday.

Coalition partners decided on Tuesday to extended the period until 5 September, with the committee calling on the government today to allow a 60-day consultation period.

Defending the changes, Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti said they had not been drafted ad-hoc, also dismissing criticism voiced by international broadcasting and journalism associations, saying they were not familiar with the situation in Slovenia.

Presenting the changes, Simoniti highlighted that 3% of the RTV Slovenija subscription fee would go to the STA and 5% for the "implementation of public interest in the field of media".

He said the redistribution of the subscription would provide more funds for the STA, which means the agency would no longer be funded directly from the budget, while the changes would also see its supervisory board appointed by the government, whereas now supervisors are appointed by the National Assembly with an absolute majority.

RTV Slovenia general manager Igor Kadunc expressed outrage, saying the changes should be thrown out of legislative procedure and calling on parties to come forward with their views on what RTV Slovenija's fate should be.

STA general manager Bojan Veselinovič was also critical. He believes the changes would cause conflict in the media market. He also underlined that the STA was operating in the green and that its users were satisfied with its services.

While criticism was also voiced by the Journalists' Association and the RTV Slovenija trade union, the Association of Journalists and Commentators welcomed the changes.

Boris Tomašič, the programming director of Nova24TV, urged RTV Slovenija to become more rational in its operations, saying that production costs had dropped in the past years.

Nataša Sukič of the Left argued in the debate that the changes were an attack on RTV Slovenija and the STA for the purpose of strengthening Nova24TV and Planet TV. This view was shared by Lidija Divjak Mirnik of the LMŠ, who believes the government's goal was to control information.

While Nova24TV is linked with the senior coalition Democrats (SDS), Planet TV has recently been sold by the state-owned Telekom Slovenije to Hungarian TV2 Media, a company associated in media reports with the Hungarian ruling party.

Meanwhile, Marko Bandelli of SAB hinted that the changes may be subjected to referendum if passed in parliament.

Jurij Lep of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) said the party wanted public service providers to remain public and expressed satisfaction that the public consultation period was extended from initially planned five days until early September.

Jožef Lenart of the SDS meanwhile rejected fears that RTV Slovenija would collapse under the changes. He believes the changes will force it to operate more rationally and that more hard work would be needed for unbiased reporting.

Meanwhile, New Slovenia's (NSi) Tadeja Šuštar said RTV Slovenija would remain a public institution because commercial TV stations do not produce certain types of content.


More from Nekategorizirano