Regulation detailing STA public service obligation adopted

Ljubljana – The government has adopted a regulation that details how the STA should perform its public service, and defines the scope of public service and its financing. The Government Communications Office (UKOM) is authorised to sign an annual public service agreement and verify compliance with the regulation.

While the wording of the regulation was not immediately available after Thursday’s government session, a draft seen by the STA earlier this week suggests it defines precisely what the public service should look like.

It stipulates that special summaries of Slovenian and English news have to be open to the public, distinct from the news wire the agency markets to subscribers and available in a separate section of the web page.

At present, lead paragraphs and condensed news for radio stations are designated as public service and freely available.

Photos about key events and all content about minorities would also have to be available free of charge, the regulation determines.

The second set of provisions deals with the public service fee, introducing the concept of net expenses the agency incurs in the provision of public service.

In effect, the public service fee would cover the difference between total costs and commercial revenue, whereby even revenue for dedicated commercial projects the STA is performing for public bodies would count as public revenue.

The fee would be paid monthly based on the volume of public service performed in the month before; at present, the public funding, which is currently suspended, is paid monthly but does not specifically depend on monthly output.

The draft decree seen by the STA also deals with commercial services, requiring that any commercial activities be in compliance with generally accepted professional standards and the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, independence, and public accountability.

The STA would have to report quarterly to UKOM about the realisation of the business plan and UKOM would also annually evaluate whether the public service fee is lower or higher than net costs.

The oversight by UKOM also involves access to information about the STA financial and accounting practices.

Financially, the decree is estimated at EUR 2 million annually, which is broadly in line with what the agency has been receiving in the past.