SDS motions for referendum on RTVS fee and for changes to STA act voted down

Ljubljana – MPs rejected on Wednesday the Democrats’ (SDS) motion for a referendum on the opposition party’s own legislative proposal to scrap the compulsory subscription fee for public broadcaster RTV Slovenija. Also voted down was the SDS’s proposal to have the government as opposed to parliament appoint the state’s supervisors at the STA.

The RTVS motion for a consultative referendum, put forward with the argument that the broadcaster had lost up to 250,000 viewers in the past decade and that people should decide on their own if and how much subscription to pay, was rejected in a 54:28 vote.

While the SDS and the fellow opposition New Slovenia (NSi) argued the EUR 12.75 monthly fee was higher in Slovenia than in some other European countries and the efficacy of RTVS poorer, the Culture Ministry warned the changes sentinelled significant financial consequences and would prevent the provision of information in line with public interest.

The government labelled the referendum proposal unacceptable, saying the aim of the idea’s proponents was to financially ruin the public broadcaster.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly also rejected the SDS’s proposal for changes to the act on the Slovenian Press Agency (STA).

In line with the changes, the government and no longer parliament would appoint four of the STA’s supervisors, while the changes would also affect rules governing the agency’s income from copyrighted photos.

MPs voted 54:22 against the proposal, with the coalition arguing that it ran counter to its commitment for changes to media legislation that would reduce political influence, boost the independence of public media and secure stable funding for content that is in public interest.

The government had moreover argued that the proposal was not based on studies concerning the agency’s execution of its public service and market activities and lacked an assessment of the impact, especially on the STA’s financial situation.

A number of other opposition-filed legislation proposals were rejected in parliament today, including an SDS motion addressing rules on the awarding of public licences to pharmacies deemed unconstitutional in some aspects by the Constitutional Court.