Signatures for RTV Slovenija referendum to be collected in September

Ljubljana – The time frame of a campaign to collect signatures in support of a referendum on the new RTV Slovenija act has been set. The sponsor of the referendum motion, the opposition Democrats (SDS), can start collecting them on 1 September, and has until 5 October to hand in the required 40,000 signatures.

Parliamentary Deputy Speaker Danijel Krivec set the deadlines on Wednesday as Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič is currently absent.

At least 40,000 voters may submit a request for a referendum within seven days after the expiry of the deadline for collecting signatures.

The referendum question is: “Are you in favour of the enactment of the act amending the Radiotelevizija Slovenija act, adopted by the National Assembly at its session on 21 July 2022?”

The coalition re-passed the bill after the National Council, the upper chamber of parliament, had vetoed it. On that same day, the SDS submitted 6,200 signatures to initiate the procedures for calling a legislative referendum on the new law.

The new law aims to reorganise the management and supervision of the public broadcaster. It introduces a single council of 17 members instead of a 29-member programme council and an 11-member supervisory council.

None of the members will be appointed by the National Assembly in what the government says is a bid to do away with political influence on RTV Slovenija and boost the influence of employees and civil society.

Meanwhile, the SDS believes that the law would decapitate RTV management and programme councillors. SDS MP Alenka Jeraj has said that the law would bring about the end of the independent and autonomous RTV. The SDS also considers it controversial that the bill was fast-tracked as this excluded civil society from the debate.

The Culture Ministry believes that the SDS is trying to maintain the status quo established by the 2005 law on RTV Slovenija, under which politics directly appoints the supervisors and the majority of the members of the programme council. This is leading to RTV Slovenija losing its reputation, credibility, staff and viewers.

The date of the referendum is not yet known, but Klakočar Zupančič has said it would make sense to hold several possible referendums in the autumn on one super-referendum day. This would not coincide with any of the rounds of local or presidential elections that are to be held in the autumn as well.