Strasbourg – Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović wrote a letter to Prime Minister Janez Janša on Monday, urging him to immediately reintroduce funding to the Slovenian Press Agency (STA). She expressed concern that the suspension of public funding could jeopardise the agency’s future.
Mijatović noted in the letter obtained by public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, commercial broadcaster POP TV and the STA that she was paying particular attention to the promotion and respect of media freedom in all Council of Europe (CoE) member states.
The suspension of STA funding is “one of the various incidents reported to me that point to the worsening of the working environment for journalists and media outlets in Slovenia over recent months”, she said.
Founded in 1991, the STA has become a “well-respected outlet, including at international level”. “It maintains high standards of journalism and delivers a valuable public service by providing reliable information to the people of Slovenia,” she wrote in the letter sent to Janša through Slovenia’s permanent representative with the CoE.
Slovenia as the founder and owner of the STA provides a high share of STA funding from the state budget, so the CoE commissioner expressed concern that a suspension of public funding “may seriously hamper the STA’s work, possibly even jeopardising its continued operation”.
Well-funded and robust public service media are an “essential element of a democratic society”, she said, calling on the prime minister to use his authority to “ensure that the decision to suspend public funding of the STA is promptly reversed”.