The Slovenia Times

STA management urges UKOM to stop jeopardising agency's work


Ljubljana - The management of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) responded on Thursday to the Government Communication Office's (UKOM) latest statements on financing by saying that the agency had no reservations about UKOM's documentation requests as long as they were in line with the law. It urged UKOM to end actions that threaten its work.

The STA management reiterated that the representative of the agency's owner was solely the government and not UKOM, as UKOM director Uroš Urbanija claims.

Only the government has the right to a comprehensive access to information on STA operations since in line with the STA law, the government performs the role of the shareholder of the agency, the management said.

It highlighted that the agency's operations were transparent and that the STA had never concealed anything from its shareholder. The agency's operations are subject to its supervisors' reviews and internal and external audits, and its annual reports are discussed by parliament, it added.

The management pointed out that UKOM could only request documentation related to STA public service performance in line with the relevant annual contract.

It also noted that the STA had fulfilled all the requirements set down in the contract with UKOM.

UKOM has exceeded its powers by requesting certain information outside its domain, the STA management said.

By asking questions about the number of interviews with mainstream music singers, the total of interviews with musicians upon their album releases and comparisons of interviews by their length, UKOM has entered into the area protected by editorial independence provisions, it added.

UKOM does not have the power to get information related to the agency's commercial segment, the management pointed out, noting that the government office only had the power to implement the annual contract for public service content.

The STA said that its monthly pay from UKOM had been made without any disruptions and on an entirely equal basis until October, reiterating that UKOM had suspended financing despite the valid contract for 2020 with the STA.

The management highlighted that the agency had maintained stable operations and its base of subscribers in past years, even during the financial crisis, a feat that could not have been achieved without quality services and development efforts.

The STA has been cooperating on a number of successful international projects, it added, highlighting that an article-tracking tool developed by the STA made the European Commission's list of the best European innovations this year.

Amid extreme circumstances due to Covid-19, the STA has increased the number of its articles in both the Slovenian and English services, made more content available to the wider public and played an important role in informing the public, particularly in the fight against the virus.

On Monday, the government was informed of UKOM's information that it could not implement the 2020 contract with the STA or conclude a contract for 2021 and that it had thus suspended the agency's financing.

UKOM claims that the step is a result of a failure to obtain documentation showing financial operations of the STA. The STA management has dismissed such allegations.

STA director Bojan Veselinovič also rejected today "numerous false and malicious public claims" regarding the level of his pay, saying that his October net pay totalled EUR 3,552 and not more than two times this figure as alleged on social media.

In a press release Veselinovič said that he saw it as an attempt to raise dust among STA staff in the wake of UKOM's step regarding STA financing.

One of those who have made such claims is Prime Minister Janez Janša, who initially tweeted that Veselinovič received monthly pay of some EUR 6,092 during the coronavirus crisis and later amended the figure to EUR 8,500.

The STA director responded by showing pay data that are already published in their entirety in STA annual reports as well as on the agency's website.


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