Protesters present petition against political meddling in RTV

Ljubljana – After the latest edition of the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija’s show Tarča sparked controversy and criticism, a petition was launched in support of the show, its host Erika Žnidaršič, and media freedom at RTV Slovenija, gathering over 6,000 signatures, which were presented to the RTV’s programming council on Thursday.

The 6 January edition of the show Tarča, which featured former Maribor Mayor and current State Secretary at the Interior Ministry Franc Kangler and presented an analysis of his court dealings, has sparked off some critical reactions.

In the following days, rumours about the investigative current affairs show’s host Žnidaršič being suspended started spreading on social media, which was swiftly denied by RTV Slovenija.

The critical reactions also prompted an urgent meeting of RTV Slovenija’s programming council on Thursday, which resulted in a demand that RTV’s management provides additional material for further discussion.

The meeting with resume on 24 January, the programming council told the STA, adding that the second part of the 6 January edition of Tarča would be broadcast before that.

As the second part of the show was originally supposed to be broadcast this evening, the fact that it was postponed sparked criticism as well, especially among the organisers of Friday’s protests, who call themselves the Protest People’s Assembly.

This means unacceptable political pressure on RTV Slovenija’s news programmes, said Jaša Jenull, one of the most prominent protesters, as over 6,000 petition signatures were handed over to the RTV programming council chairman Ciril Baškovič today.

Jenull also called on all journalists, the Slovenian Journalists’ Association and RTV employees to resolutely resist these pressures themselves, and on Slovenia’s civil society and other active individuals to stand by them.

The RTV journalists’ union and other groups of journalists within the RTV expressed their protests about today’s meeting as well, saying that it was an attempt of interference in editorial autonomy and political pressure on the editorial staff of Tarča.

The whole situation was also criticised today by opposition SocDems MP Marko Koprivc, who said that the results of censorship at RTV Slovenija were already visible, and welcomed the protesters handing over the petition signatures to Baškovič.

In addition, Koprivc announced that in the coming days, the opposition would submit a request to convene an urgent meeting of the parliamentary Culture Committee on the situation in the Slovenian media landscape.