Parliamentary committee opposes referendum on RTV Slovenija

Ljubljana – The parliamentary Culture Committee rejected on Friday an opposition-sponsored motion to call a referendum on the changes to the RTV Slovenija act which would make the now mandatory RTV Slovenija licence fee voluntary. Five MPs voted for the referendum and nine against.

The Democrats (SDS) filed the motion in mid-May after submitting the changes to parliament. The motion delayed the final decision on the changes by the then emerging coalition led by the Freedom Movement, which intended to vote them down in parliament.

By rushing to submit the changes to parliament, the SDS overtook the coalition, which submitted its own RTV Slovenija bill on the same day. The coalition-sponsored bill would give more say to RTV Slovenija staff and the civil society while reducing the role of parliament in appointing members of the Programme Council.

But under the rules of procedure, the bill first submitted is first debated.

Under the SDS-proposed change to the RTV Slovenija act individuals and companies would be able to decide whether they want to pay the licence fee and in what amount.

Currently, individuals pay EUR 12.75 for a TV receiver and EUR 3.77 for a radio receiver.

Culture Ministry State Secretary Marko Rusjan said today the legislative proposal would significantly affect the public broadcaster’s financial situation, rendering RTV Slovenija unable to perform its public service.

Andrej Hoivik from SDS in contrast said that RTV Slovenija journalists and editors did not honour the existing RTV Slovenija act, which calls for unbiased reporting and protecting of children and youth from contents that might harm their development. Many SDS voters also believe the article banning political propaganda is being violated as well, he said.

Mojca Pašek Šetinc from the Freedom Movement rejected these claims, saying the SDS’s sole intention was to financially exhaust the main public media outlet in the country. The SDS is working to block the work of the National Assembly, she said, labelling this as unacceptable.

Even though the referendum motion has now been defeated, activist Vili Kovačič recently mentioned that he might start collecting signatures in support of a referendum against the coalition-sponsored changes to the RTV Slovenija act, which he thinks should not be changed.

Under the law, any voter may file for a referendum within seven days after the passage of a bill if backed by at least 2,000 voter signatures.