The Slovenia Times

Journalist new chairman of public broadcaster

Politics
Ljubljana
Zvezdan Martič, the new chairman of the board at public broadcaster RTV Slovenija.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Zvezdan Martič, a 60-year old journalist who has spent most of his career at RTV Slovenija, has been named chairman of the public broadcaster's management board for a four-year term, pledging to end crisis at the country's biggest media outlet.

Martič, co-founded the RTV Slovenija multimedia centre, which he headed for a decade, until 2010. Most recently, he was deputy director of TV programmes in 2019-2021. He has also worked as news journalist, talk show host and author of documentary films.

One of four candidates, Martič won 16 votes from the 17-member governing council in a vote on 13 July and will take office on 14 July. Representatives on the staff on the council praised his vision and highlighted his long career at the broadcaster as an asset.

In his presentation he said he would focus on employees' career growth, digitalisation, professional standards, reorganisation with the goal of improving content, and the optimisation of all processes. He sees RTV Slovenija as a "modern, digital and multimedia broadcaster."

He said the situation at RTV Slovenija was bad since employees were under pressure, taking sick leave and quitting. "This has to end immediately," he said, adding that the staff had tremendous knowledge but were being poached due to this situation.

The appointment signals the end of a deep crisis at the public broadcaster after the previous governing council was appointed under the previous, right-wing government, and then named several people with close ties to right-wing parties to senior positions, some of them with little media experience.

The new government started its term with a pledge to undo the damage and "depoliticise" the broadcaster and amended the act on RTV Slovenia as one of its first legislative moves. The gist of the amendments was to reduce the parliament's role in the appointment of the council and create a new management board to replace the position of director general.

But its implementation was delayed first by a referendum initiated by the Democrats (SDS) and then by a Constitutional Court challenge that took months to resolve and in the end split the court along ideological lines, resulting first in a suspension of the amendments and, months later, a reversal of the suspension due to the court's inability to reach a verdict.

In the interim, a large part of the journalists have been formally on strike and have staged several work stoppages demanding that the previous management step down.

Martič said the first thing he planned to do was to immediately revoke all unlawful decisions by the current management, including job terminations, and strive to end the strike, which he said was triggered by the current management.

He also pledged to make sure to secure "normal financing" and end the practice whereby funds that should be spent on investments were used to buttress the balance sheet.

Once in office, Martič will propose two more management board members from the ranks of seven candidates who have applied for the job that will then be confirmed by the council. The employees will elect one more member.

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