The Slovenia Times

Public broadcaster pares back programming to cut costs

The emblem of the Slovenian public broadcaster. Photo: Bor Slana/STA

The governing council of RTV Slovenija has sidestepped opposition by content chiefs, trade unions and the civil society to confirm a production plan for 2024 that involves significant programming cuts in order to keep the public broadcaster afloat.

The cuts affect in particular all radio channels, where the frequency of many shows will be reduced. There will also be fewer films and cartoons, and several music festivals that have been on for decades will be cancelled, including Slovenska Popevka, first organised 1962, which has produced a number of evergreen songs.

The TV news segment will be expanded as all core news programmes will last longer. One show, Panorama, which was introduced under the previous management, will be cancelled, while a weekend news show that the previous management abandoned is making a comeback.

The cuts are needed because the broadcaster's finances do not add up. The licence fee, which accounts for more than two-thirds of total revenue, has remained unchanged for more than a decade even as labour and licensing costs have increased along with inflation.

The broadcaster has pleaded with the government to increase the licence fee, but Prime Minister Robert Golob rejected this option recently with the argument that this would drive inflation, which the government has been at pains to reign in.

The government has meanwhile committed to secure an additional €5 million for a total of €10 million in co-funding for radio and TV programmes for ethnic minorities.

Taking that into account, both revenue and expenditure are projected at €142.2 million. The RTV Slovenija is required by law to have a balanced budget. The management estimates this year's shortfall at €10.5 million.

Survival plan

With the document adopted on 21 december, Goran Forbici, the head of the governing council, said it was a survival plan, not one that would provide for development.

Management board president Zvezdan Martić said it was "the best that we have been able to put together with these resources," adding that talks were under way with advertisers about higher prices.

The remaining two board members disagreed with the plan, as did digital content director Kaja Jakopić and radio director Mirko Štular.

TV director Ksenija Horvat meanwhile expressed support for the plan with the argument that the news segment will be stabilised and live coverage of major sports events such as the Olympics, the Euro 2024 and the Tour de France provided.

The cuts will not take effect immediately. Early on in the year the reduction on shows and films will be minimal, but after the summer some will be taken off the air entirely.

Martić however said that efforts would be made to secure extra funding in the first months of 2024 so that "we do not have a programme blackout".

The plan was confirmed with 13 votes against three, whereby the management was ordered to draw up a comprehensive restructuring plan involving programming, staff and finance.

Concerns about implications

The vote came after organisations representing writers, musicians and producers voiced sharp opposition to the plan.

RTV Slovenija directly and indirectly finances hundreds of content creators through co-productions and the organisation of festivals and there are fears the cuts will have profound knock-on effects on a range of creative industries.

The trade unions of RTV Slovenija journalists and the Trade Union of Journalists called on the government to provide a funding framework that will enable the broadcaster to meet its duties as a public service and make funding independent from the whims of each new government.

The cuts are a "continuation of the paradigm that has now also been embraced by new management and council of RTV Slovenija" in what will have detrimental effects on "development, programme and staffing", the unions warned.

Sharing the concerns, the Slovenian Journalists' Association said a sign reading STAnje je resno (the situation is serious) should also be put up on the facade of the RTV building, having been displayed in the windows of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) since 2021 when the previous government suspended the agency's funding.

The sign was removed on 22 December as the STA signed an agreement with the Government Communication Office providing the agency with €2.4 million in funding for provision of public service in 2024, a 5.5% increase from this year.

The situation at RTV comes after the new governing council and management took over at the public broadcaster this year based on legislation amended by the current government and endorsed in a referendum over a year ago that was than challenged at the Constitutional Court, which, unable to reach a judgement on merits, decided in May 2023 that the law can take effect.

The new management blames the dire financial situation on the previous management, which was appointed during the previous government of Janez Janša.


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