Ljubljana – The director general of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija Andrej Grah Whatmough has dismissed Natalija Gorščak, the director of TV programmes, after accusing her of violating bylaws and allowing ratings to plummet. Gorščak, who is on sick leave, said she had received the notice of dismissal via courier.
The decision, announced on Friday, comes after the broadcaster’s programming council was supposed to debate Grah Whatmough’s motion last week. Since it was inquorate, Grah Whatmough had sole discretion to dismiss her from the post.
Grah Whatmough, who took over at RTV Slovenija in April, has alleged that Gorščak violated bylaws by blowing through spending limits, failing to act on warnings that ratings have been dropping, and failing to look into the condition of a business arrangement between the broadcaster and a company owned by the husband of an editor-in-chief, Manica Ambrožič Janežič.
He has said that his motion to dismiss Gorščak is not politically motivated, he only wants a high-quality programme and is disappointed that this issue is being politicised.
Gorščak has retorted that the allegations were fabricated just so that she could be dismissed. She has said the main reason why she is on the chopping block is that she refuses to obey the director’s demands regarding staffing and programming changes, issues that are not in his purview anyway since he does not have control over content.
She has said the ratings data had been cherry-picked and that ratings in the crucial 18-45 age group have actually increased this year.
The dismissal is seen by critics as yet another attempt by the central-right government to gain control of the country’s largest media house and a move which will trigger the replacement of editors.
In a press statement, RTV Slovenija said that Grah Whatmough would provisionally take over Gorščak’s duties until a new director of TV Slovenija is appointed.
“This is a temporary solution that guarantees all activities at TV Slovenija are uninterrupted and conducted in accordance with bylaws and the act on RTV Slovenija,” the statement says.
Responding to the dismissal, Gorščak said in today’s written statement she would use legal means to prove that she had worked well, in line with regulations and legislation.