The Slovenia Times

TV Slovenija journalist appointed govt communications chief

Politics

Ljubljana - The government appointed journalist Petra Bezjak Cirman acting director of the Government Communications Office (UKOM) at a correspondence session on Thursday. A public call for applications for a full-fledged boss will be issued in two months, Prime Minister Rober Golob has said.

A journalist at public broadcaster TV Slovenija, she was put forward for the job by Golob. Most recently, she served as the full-time head of the broadcaster's works council and the workers' representative on RTV Slovenija's supervisory board.

Talking to Radio Slovenija today, she said she had done little journalistic work in the past five years. She made some 30 news reports and none had been about the incumbent prime minister, she said, adding her work had been unbiased.

She will replace Dragan Barbutovski, who has stepped down earlier this week. Golob said today that Barbutovski was being replaced because he lacked the organisational and managerial skills to run an office that the government would want to get help from in the war on hate speech.

Barbutovski, an expert on EU affairs who had most recently headed the Slovenian office of the British Council, is to be transferred to the PM's office to be responsible for international communications, if he decides to take up the offer.

Golob said that the "primary role of the head of [UKOM] should be organisational and managerial and we will make the best effort to find such a person," he said of the call for full-fledged director.

In the interim, Bezjak Cirman will head UKOM. Being employed with RTV Slovenija and working as the head of the works' council, she knows well how the existing leadership of the public broadcaster operates, Golob said, adding that they would not want such practice to continue at UKOM.

Bezjak Cirman has been a top workers' representative at the public broadcaster at a time when employees of RTV Slovenija protested against political meddling by the then UKOM boss UroŇ° Urbanija and the previous government.

Urbanija's time at UKOM was marked by withdrawal of funding for the STA and weekly commentary about TV Slovenija production. Only a few weeks ago, he was appointed TV Slovenija director by the broadcaster's director general Andrej Grah Whatmough.

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