Upper chamber vetoes new RTV Slovenija law

Ljubljana – The National Council has imposed a suspensive veto on the law amended by the lower chamber last week to overhaul the governing bodies of the public broadcaster so that their members will no longer be appointed by parliament, political parties or the government. The ruling coalition has a comfortable enough majority to override the veto.

The amendments to the RTV Slovenija act were vetoed by 16 votes in favour and 15 against on Wednesday with the main argument by the law’s opponents being the speed with which the government as the sponsor of the law would like to replace governing bodies at the public broadcaster.

Under the changes, the existing programming council and the supervisory board will be replaced with a single 17-strong council in which the staff will be represented by six members.

The remaining eleven members will be appointed by the Italian and Hungarian minorities, religious communities, the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the National Council for Culture, the Slovenian Olympic Committee, the Information Commissioner, the Human Rights Ombudsman, the Council for Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection and the National Council of the Disabled.

In place of director general, the law would introduce a five-member management board comprising of directors of radio and TV arms, workers’ director and digital contents director.

The terms of incumbent decision-making bodies and officials would end when the law came into effect and the new council would be formed within 60 days.

The councillors that backed the veto see those time frames as unreasonably short. Speaking for the group of councillors representing local interests, Milan Ozimič, called the changes rash, arguing that problems at the broadcaster were rooted too deep to be tackled in such a simplified way.

Supporting the law were members of the upper chamber’s commission on culture with trade unionist councillor Branimir Štrukelj saying that a majority on the commission thought the point of the law was limiting the influence of political parties on RTV Slovenija.

Voting against the veto were also the interest group of employees with the leader of the group Lidija Jerkič saying they were not persuaded by the argument for the veto which appeared to defend the terms of certain groups in the broadcaster.

The opponents to the veto said though that the law would have to be upgraded further later.

The National Assembly passed amendments to the RTV Slovenija act last Thursday by 53 votes to 26. To override the veto an absolute majority of 46 votes.