By: Sara Bertoncelj / Nova24tv.si
The government’s communications office (Ukom) said in a press release yesterday that they had refused to pay for the STA’s public service in January this year. Ukom had to do this because it has no legal basis for payment, namely the contract for the performance of the STA public service for this year was not signed between Ukom and STA. Moreover, journalist Lili Bayer is obviously still dealing with what is happening in Slovenia, but only unilaterally. While she is still unaware of the facts that are contrary to her agenda, she quickly shared the aforementioned news on Twitter.
The journalist, who recently wrote in the infamous media Politico about how Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša allegedly intimidated and persecuted media that were not to his liking, continues to deal with what is happening in our country. But not in the way that many have suggested to her, namely to check the facts and listen to someone else who would present things to her more objectively and without the obvious agenda of our left wing political option. This time, Lili Bayer shared the STA news on Twitter and wrote that Slovenia had again temporarily withheld payment for performing the STA public service. The Prime Minister soon replied that the journalist was again spreading false news.
The Prime Minister was not the only one who responded to the publication of the Politico’s journalist. Sociologist Borut Rončević replied that he anxiously awaits the day when she would finally decide to verify the facts. “But of course, you have every right to be an agitator and not a journalist,” he added. He also explained to some of the participants in the discussion that he is a researcher himself and that he draws conclusions based on facts.
“In a recent report on Slovenia, Miss Lili Bayer, a journalist, did not do so. In fact, she has decided to ignore the facts that are not in line with her agenda,” said Rončević, asking if such a journalist could ever be trusted. He also added that we live in a democratic society and she is free to choose to lose her professional integrity. Those who do not agree with such an approach can be reminded of this, both her and the public.
Mitja Iršič also spoke up and explained to the journalist that she had received only half-truths. He explained that the director of the STA, Bojan Veselinovič, does not want to hand over documents that would enable Ukom or the government of the Republic of Slovenia to assess what the appropriate financing of the agency means. “This problem has only just emerged, as previous governments have provided funds without adequate clarity,” he wrote.
STA has still not fulfilled its contractual obligations
Yesterday’s press release stated that on January 27th, 2021 the Government Communication Office (Ukom) had fulfilled all its obligations to the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) in accordance with the public service contract. Regardless of the fulfilment of all obligations from the contract, which was signed by the former director of Ukom and the current director of STA Bojan Veselinovič, the latter has not sent the required documents, which he should have in accordance with the signed obligations from the contract. In February, Ukom received a letter from STA journalists stating that their salaries had remained the same as before Veselinovič’s arrival in 2009, namely between 1,200 and 1,300 euros. The information that director Veselinovič pays individual part-time employees 5 euros per contribution also came to light. Given the fact that STA pays about 8,000 euros a month for director Bojan Veselinovič, this kind of payment to journalists, if the information is accurate, is unacceptable and also rejecting. However, as the director did not provide the required documentation, this was unfortunately not possible to verify.
The public service contract for 2020 clearly stated that Ukom was a “representative of the founder”, and Veselinovič agreed with this fact when he received money from Ukom. However, he did not agree with this fact when he should have handed over the financial documentation to Ukom. With the last payment, any contractual relationship between Ukom and STA ended, so the situation where Veselinovič sent an invoice in the amount of 169 thousand euros to Ukom for the activities he performed in January seems almost unbelievable. Ukom, of course, has no legal basis on which it could pay the invoices sent to it by companies with which it has no regulated contractual relationship. That is why Ukom had to refuse to pay the bill. If it turns out that the director of STA Bojan Veselinovič has changed his mind and recognises Ukom as the “representative of the founder”, Ukom will prepare a new contract, on the basis of which it will be possible to finance STA in accordance with Slovenian legislation.
Unfortunately, to date, Director Veselinovič has not expressed any interest in concluding this contract. On the other hand, agreements on the conclusion of a market contract were kept in force. On January 4th, 2021, Ukom addressed a request to STA to provide a price list of STA market services. The Slovenian Press Agency (STA), or the director Bojan Veselinovič, sent an incomplete price list to Ukom only a month later, on February 1st, 2021. On February 4th, 2021, Ukom asked him to send a complete and whole price list, which was then done by director Veselinovič. So, it took exactly one month for Ukom to obtain the price list, which it asked for on January 4th, 2021. When Ukom obtained the full price list, it informed potential users of STA market services within the government administration. On February 12th, 2021, Ukom sent the collected interest to STA. Director Veselinovič, in addition to the fact that he sent the price list of services only a month after Ukom’s request and that he received the interest collected from Ukom within one week, also sent Ukom the following answer: Veselinovič: “We consider your letter to be another attempt to delay and extend the period in which we have provided users on the government side with free access to our content since the beginning of this year. In anticipation of an agreement on the form of cooperation in the future, for which we have constantly strived for, however, we have not received any response from you regarding our initiatives.” Subsequently, Director Veselinovič did send an offer, but unlike previous years, when he granted significant discounts to the government administration (approx. 60%), he decided that there were no such discounts this time, and consequently the government will have to rationalise things further.
Meanwhile, STA director Bojan Veselinovič emphasised in his response that the 7th anti-corona law clearly stipulates that funds from this year’s budget be provided for the public service for this year. The Slovenian Journalists’ Trade Union also stated that the 7th anti-corona act stipulates that funds from this year’s budget be provided for carrying out the STA public service in 2021 in accordance with the adopted STA business plan for this year, regardless of whether the STA has concluded a contract with the founder. In any case, the journalist should have definitely inquired about the real situation in Slovenia and correct her article accordingly. But this has obviously not yet occurred to her, namely, the agenda of those who suggest her is different as the truth is apparently not in the first place.