Majority of parties in favour of depoliticising public broadcaster, split on STA financing

Slovenska tiskovna agencija (STA).

Ljubljana – The influence of politics on the media has been a major concern in recent years. The majority of parties quizzed by the STA spoke in favour of depoliticising appointments to the governing bodies of the public broadcaster, albeit to varying degrees and in different ways. When it comes to how to finance the STA, opinions are split.

Under the current law, there are five representatives of political parties on the 28-strong programming council of RTV Slovenija and five on the 11-strong supervisory board. The National Assembly also formally appoints programming council members put forward by the civil society, who often have links to politics.

Several parties support a change of the system whereby political parties would no longer be directly represented, including DeSUS, LMŠ, SAB, SD and Pirate Party on the left, and the NSi and Resni.ca on the right.

The Freedom Movement spoke about creating a new legal framework that would “reduce direct political influence” by emphasising editorial independence, whereas the Left called for a change in favour of giving staff and the public more power.

The SDS would support no longer having political parties represented “if that would actually achieve the goal,” noting that any changes to the composition of both governing bodies would have to address the broader issues faced by the broadcaster.

Similarly, Connecting Slovenia said the composition of both bodies should be “balanced”. The alliance supports any route arrived at “in political and expert consultations” that would achieve such a balance.

Only a handful of parties spoke against removing political parties from both governing bodies, including the SNS and Our Land.

The STA used to receive public financing via an annual block grant, but the current government changed in favour of a system under each news item published in the public service is paid separately, as are photographs.

The STA resisted such a system but consented when faced with bankruptcy due to the withdrawal of financing, whereby it has challenged the new scheme in court, which is yet to pass a verdict.

Asked about the financing arrangement, parties that make up the current coalition are in favour of retaining this system or tweaking it.

The SDS and NSi advocate financing that clearly separates between commercial and public services, and Connecting Slovenia said the financing is “adequately regulated”. The same position was voiced by the SNS.

Parties in the left meanwhile pledge to change the system and revoke the decree. The DeSUS, Left, LMŠ expressed this view, as did SAB, which sees the current system of financing as a result of “government destruction” of the STA.

The Freedom Movement meanwhile said the financing decree encroached on editorial and managerial independence, which means that it has to be “revised” and the contested portions thereof revoked.