Urbanija to become boss of TV Slovenija

Ljubljana – Uroš Urbanija, who served as the head of the Government Communication Office (UKOM) under the previous government, will be appointed director of TV Slovenija by RTV Slovenija general director Andrej Grah Whatmough on Monday, RTV Slovenija said in a press release on Friday.

The news comes after Urbanija was interviewed by Grah Whatmough today after having already received approval of the public broadcaster’s programme council last week.

Based on today’s interview, Grah Whatmough expects constructive cooperation from Urbanija during his four-year term at the head of TV Slovenija, the broadcaster’s TV arm.

The general director believes the situation at the public broadcaster needed to be stabilised, so as to produce good content in the future and draft an optimal production plan which will prioritise the needs and expectations of those who pay licence fee.

The press release said Urbanija underlined he was aware of the responsibility and understood the mission of a public media outlet. He believes TV Slovenija needed stability of programme and funding, but said that much-needed changes required time.

TV Slovenija’s new programme and production plan must be based on an assessment of the current programme scheme and in cooperation with employees. He will strive to improve internal relations at the broadcaster, according to the press release.

The news of his impending appointment comes after in-house trade unions called on Grah Whatmough not to appoint Urbanija because he does not meet the requirements as TV Slovenija must be politically unbiased and follow public interest.

Employees of TV Slovenija have launched a strike in May protesting political interference, also calling on Grah Whatmough to resign.

The trade unions expressed their opposition once again following the news today. Considering Urbanija’s modus operandi in the past, his appointment will lead to further deterioration of relations within the broadcaster, the unions said.

Appointing him increases the risk for pressure on individual journalists and editors and for journalistic and editorial autonomy, strike committee head Helena Milinković said in a press release.

In his role as the head of UKOM, Urbanija showed a severe lack of “moral integrity, and a biased, propaganda-like and preaching-style attitude toward the media and journalists”, Milinković added.

He tried to destroy the STA, while his “past journalistic work, including at RTV Slovenija, and especially at the multimedia desk, showed he does not have the needed professional experience and know-how to perform this type of managerial job”.

Appointing Urbanija TV Slovenija director will be proof that Grah Whatmough does not wish to conclude the strike negotiations, said Milinković, adding that a person who abuses professional code and standards for political purposes could hardly negotiate the resolution of the two main strike demands: editorial and journalistic autonomy.

Milinković said she will propose the strike committee to reconsider whether it is meaningful to continue negotiations if the employer hampers them by appointing negotiators who are “evidently incompetent and worsen conflicts instead of resolving them”.