The Slovenia Times

Slovenia improves in press freedom ranking

Cameras set up in the National Assembly. Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Slovenia has jumped eight places to rank 42nd in the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, but despite the improvement journalists warn they still face pressure and economic uncertainty.

The country scored 72.6 points, up from 70.59 last year, having received high marks for legislation, where it placed 16th. In fares much worse when it comes to the economic conditions for journalism, ranking 59th.

In an analysis issued on 3 May, Reporters Without Borders says that even though the legal framework protecting media freedom in Slovenia remains solid, journalists have been subjected to political and, increasingly, economic pressure.

The climate of hostility towards journalists has calmed since Prime Minister Janez Janša's departure in 2022, and the independence of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija has been strengthened by the reform of its governing bodies enacted by the current government.

"But defamation has not been decriminalised yet, allowing politicians to initiate SLAPP proceedings against the media. Some media outlets have also been subjected to legal pressure to disclose their sources," the report notes.

Regarding the economic context, the report says that RTV Slovenija is under severe financial pressure due to bad business decisions by previous managers as well as a failure to increase the domestic TV licence fee.

Print media, meanwhile, are "threatened with extinction due to the high cost of printing," whereas their independence is jeopardised by a lack of transparency in ownership, the legacy of weakly regulated privatisation.

When it comes to safety, the report notes that due to "political polarisation accentuated by the aggressive rhetoric of some politicians, journalists have been repeatedly insulted and verbally attacked", although physical attacks are still rare.

Journalists want better legislation, state aid

The report was released on World Press Freedom Day amidst appeals by Slovenian organisations of journalists that the state needs to do more to support quality journalism.

The Trade Union of Slovenian Journalists said work conditions were deteriorating, while the state kept ignoring its commitment to providing sufficient financing for the national public broadcaster RTV Slovenija.

In private media, private interest overpowers public interest, and all staff, not just those on part-time contracts, are in a precarious position, the union said.

The Association of Slovenian Journalists echoed Reporters Without Borders in saying that there had been a change in political discourse on the media now that the current government publicly supported media freedom.

However, it said that the government was dragging its feet on providing a subsidy system for the media due to a lack of political will and added that the government needed to "translate media freedom from a buzzword brandished before the election into concrete steps".

The improvement in the World Press Freedom Index "may seem like success at first, but as always, context is important," the association said.

Culture Minister Asta Vrečko, whose portfolio covers media policy, asserted that the government was trying to undo the damage to public media done by the previous government, Slovenia having "narrowly escaped the fate of Slovakia and Hungary" under the previous government.

She said the reform media act currently under consideration would "address many problems in the media space" by improving transparency and protecting the independence and plurality of the media.


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