Public broadcaster staff complain of pressure by leadership

Ljubljana – Reporters at public broadcaster RTV Slovenija have accused the management and the programming council of exerting pressure on them, which they say has created impossible work conditions.

“We have been on the frontline for a while. There is pressure on colleagues, we work in extreme circumstances, in impossible conditions,” Helena Milinković, a journalist and head of the coordinating body of journalists’ trade unions at RTV Slovenija, told a debate on Wednesday evening.

She said journalists were being collectively punished for publicly exposing unbearable work conditions. “We are nobody’s serfs and we will not be quiet,” she said.

The debate came amidst upheaval at the public broadcaster following the appointment of a new programming council and changes at key management and editorial positions.

Milinković said the management, with the support of the programming council and the supervisory board, was taking unlawful staffing decisions, reducing the influence of the editorial department on editorial policy, arbitrarily changing the programme, and threatening those who express their opinions to fire them.

At the same time, the programming council demands of the director general to restrict trade union rights, she said about a resolution the programming council adopted in 17 March which calls on the director to make sure trade unions do not interfere with staffing decisions and to sanction those who undermine the reputation of RTV Slovenija.

One major point of contention is the appointment of Igor Pirkovič as deputy editor of the online portal MMC, which staff have complained about quoting Pirkovič’s political affiliation with the ruling party and the management’s refusal to secure approval from the editors of TV and radio prior to the appointment.

This point was raised yesterday by Nejc Jemec, the editor-in-chief of radio station Val 202.

The Ljubljana Labour and Social Court has cleared changes to the procedure for the appointment of the MMC editor, which require just a non-binding opinion from the radio editor, the programming council said yesterday.

The debate also featured Slavko Splichal, a political sciences professor who was appointed to the programming council at the proposal of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. He said society may well endeavour to preserve RTV Slovenija as a public institution, but it was crucial that staff fight for that.