Ljubljana – The government adopted and filed to parliament on Friday a bill to reform the model of management and oversight at RTV Slovenija to reduce what is perceived as political meddling with the public broadcaster. This comes after RTV journalists recently went on strike twice demanding editorial autonomy.
The changes to the RTV Slovenija act from 2005 aim to abolish the 29-strong programme council and the 11-strong supervisory board to introduce a 17-member RTV Slovenija council.
The dominant role on the new council will be played by civil society and staff; the latter will have five members, four elected directly at the broadcaster and one to be appointed by the works council.
The remaining members will be appointed on the basis of public calls by the Italian and Hungarian minorities, Slovenia’s president, parliament, Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU), the National Culture Committee, Slovenian Olympic Committee, Information Commissioner, Council for Sustainable Development, and Human Rights Ombudsman.
The government says this will significantly reduce the impact of political parties on RTV Slovenija as the National Assembly will appoint only two members, who will have to be experts on education and on culture and the media.
To prevent the conflict or interest or corruption acts, RTV Slovenija council members will have an option of only one re-election.
The bill introduces a new consultative body advising the RTV Slovenija council – a financial board of five financial experts.
Its members will be appointed by the RTV Slovenija council upon proposal by the culture and finance ministers, the RTV works council, the Slovenian Directors Association, and the Association of Bookkeepers, Financial Experts and Auditors.
The new business model moreover eliminates the post of director general, while introducing a new four-member management board.
The board will feature all major senior directors at the broadcaster, with one of them being a workers’ director.
Culture Minister Asta Vrečko said after the government session this is to also ensure the right of workers to take part in management.
The broadcaster’s TV and radio arms, TV Slovenija and Radio Slovenija, will each keep their director, but a third one in charge of digital content will be added to provide for a more equal position of new media in the digital times.
The bill overhauls the appointment procedure for editors-in-chief, introducing the requirement of pre-appointment consultation with the staff.
The opinion of the staff in the appointment procedure is to have more weight than now when it does not have to be taken into account.
The bill also introduces some limits to dismissal of editors which can no longer be an arbitrary decision of the management.
Editors will be dismissed only if they lose trust of the staff and the RTV Slovenija council will have to agree with the move.
The bill sets a clear line between the powers of the RTV Slovenija council and of editors when it comes to media content.
The council will not be allowed to interfere in specific parts of the content before publication, and could only discuss them on the basis of reports from the broadcaster’s advocate of the rights of viewers and listeners.
With the bill, which is published on the parliament’s website, the government wants to ensure institutional autonomy and protect editorial independence of RTV.
Minister Vrečko said that the government decided to fast-track the bill through parliament because the situation at RTV Slovenija is “rather alarming”.
She said that the bill takes into account some of the proposals the in-house trade unions that have staged two strikes have put forward.
Prime Minister Rober Golob added that “the agony at RTV must be stopped” and the bill is the first step in this direction.
He said that the programme council has lost the trust of the National Assembly, which appoints its members, and of the broadcaster’s founder, and reiterated the coalition’s unanimous stance that the situation must be addressed immediately.