Ljubljana – Journalists of the news programme of the television arm of RTV Slovenija protested on Thursday against the relevant draft programme and production plan for 2022, calling on the programming council of the public broadcaster to reject it and adjust it so that it “appropriately implements the mission of RTV”.
TV Slovenija journalist Igor E. Bergant told the protest press conference that the draft plan had not been significantly changed compared to its initial format despite remarks from the news programme journalists.
The key remarks and warnings remain, with certain changes “in the expert opinion of the news programme journalists being detrimental to the mission of the public institute”, as cancelling and relocating shows “is reminiscent of some other times.”
According to Bergant, the problem is that the plan is not well worked out in certain segments, and it is completely unclear how it could be realistically implemented at all even if the greatest possible effort was invested.
He believes that the changes do not solve the issue of ratings, as claimed by the management of RTV Slovenija as the initiators of the changes.
“Informing is not the only one, but is certainly one of the key missions of European radio-television services, where ratings are not and must not be the only or the main criterion,” Bergant said.
He noted that the news programme journalists at TV Slovenija were not afraid of changes as such, as they wanted to work “even more, even better and in better conditions,” while adding that the proposed changes did not enable this.
“The initiators even explicitly speak about an experiment,” Bergant said, adding that now was not the time for experiments as RTV Slovenija is facing financial difficulties, but to “focus on what is already known”.
The journalists also noted that the issue was not about individuals or politics or about problems with communication, but about an “ill-advised, and partially unprofessional” and “uncoordinated plan”.
Manica Janežič Ambrožič, who stepped down as the TV news programme editor-in-chief in mid-October over the plan, said that the shrinking of the programme and moving some of the shows to channel 2 undermined the role and message of RTV Slovenija.
Janežič Ambrožič, who continues to serve as the acting editor-in-chief, noted that “134 colleagues … think that the planned thorough changes are a step in the wrong direction.”
She stressed that the journalists did not stand united because they feared change, but because the plan was an “extremely risky business”, adding that changes needed to be “professionally reasoned, discussed and coordinated production-wise.”
Also showing up at the protest press conference were many journalists from other media outlets, while support has also been expressed by the expert public.
According to the TV Slovenija news programme journalists, the appeal to the RTV Slovenija management to rethink the draft plan for next year has been signed by 126 out of a total of 143 journalists.
TV Slovenija acting director Valentin Areh rejected the claims by journalists about the news content being shrunk under the plan, adding that the idea was to put the interest of viewers first.
“The news programme of TV Slovenija is in a serious crisis, and ratings for a majority of shows are dropping … which is why we decided for programme changes modelled after the most successful public broadcasters such as the BBC, ZDF and ORF,” he said.
Areh, who is puzzled by the journalists “requesting that nothing must change despite the drastic drop in ratings”, added that the management was obliged to take measures and take the wishes and interests of viewers into account.
The Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts meanwhile expressed support for TV Slovenija journalists, saying that the management should lend an ear to the remarks of employees, who should have the main say in such matters.
“Given the currently very chaotic management of the institute, which is becoming increasingly susceptible to informal pressure from external actors and their private interests, the position of the employees is where reasonable reflection should be anchored,” adds the statement signed by almost 80 members of the centre.
The programming council of RTV Slovenija is expected to start discussing the plan next Monday.