By Jože Biščak and Vinko Vasle
Prior to the debate in the European Parliament (March 10), the International Press Institute (IPI), together with 18 other organizations (including the Slovenian Journalists’ Association), wrote to MEPs (HERE).
Jože Biščak (editor of the magazine Demokracija and president of the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists) and Vinko Vasle (a long-time journalist and former director of Radio Slovenia) have already responded to the letter.
We publish their open letter in full:
»Dear Members of the European Parliament,
you have received a letter from the International Press Institute (IPI) and 18 other organizations. We claim that the letter is full of manipulations, half-truths and even lies. The letter is a monologue of like-minded people that has no basis in reality.
We wholeheartedly agree! European Union must act on media freedom in Slovenia! Media freedom in our country is under siege! But not from who you think. Janez Janša, SDS and the current government coalition have nothing to do with it. Slovenia’s media freedoms have been under siege for years. And the media tycoons who run the media, have – without exceptions – political ties to the left.
You’ve heard BS of supposed megalomaniacal Hungarian investments in Slovenia – what they didn’t tell you is that, Hungarian private investments in Slovenia does not even cover 2% of the media landscape.
The real rulers of Slovenian media are purposefully hidden from you in plain sight by the leftist propagandists, who are selling you dystopian images of Slovenian media under Janša’s reign. On Friday, 5th of March Lenart Kučič talked about them almost by accident, during the LIDE meeting on Slovenian media, when he said that journalists of private media are not allowed to talk about their owners. Yes, it’s true. But he was not talking about Hungarian owned media. He was talking about Slovenian leftist media oligarchs, since his online portal investigated them in the past – of course he did not tell you that, since it would spoil the illusion that Janša’s government is be-all end-all of all our media woes.
These are the facts:
Printed media in Slovenia has been dominated for years by just a few media tycoons – Stojan Petrič, who owns and controls the primetime daily newspaper Delo through his Kolektor industrial holding. Bojan Petan who owns Dnevnik – the second largest daily newspaper, through his DZS conglomerate. Uroš Hakl, Boris Hakl and Saša Todorović, who own and control Večer – the Styrian region orientated daily newspaper and Martin Odlazek, a convicted felon and a home-grown oligarch, who owns several magazines that previously belonged to Delo (lifestyle magazines, tabloids etc) as well as radio stations, TV stations and internet portals. These few people basically own all the printed press market in Slovenia, and they are all intimately affiliated with left-wing political parties. Martin Odlazek is also a radio station king and has pretty much monopolized the FM market with two other radio oligarchs.
ProPlus (a company which broadcasts two largest commercial TV stations, A Kanal and Pop TV), dominates the TV ad revenue market, with a staggering market share of more than 80%. ProPlus is also using its dominant status in the TV market by extorting network operators, which provide TV content. It strong-arms the network operators into enforcing ProPlus programs onto viewers as the so called “mandatory content”, which means that the consumers have no right to pick packages of programs that don’t include ProPlus channels. ProPlus editorial board is radically leftist, not because of innate ideology, but because the owners have realized that the only way to keep the status quo they enjoy currently is to have left-wing puppet governments in charge of the country.
These are the facts. Facts that you will never hear from Marko Milosavljević or Petra Lesjak Tušek. They are here to sell you a story of a big bad orbanism induced government that’s oppressing Slovenian journalists. The truth is different – the oppressors of Slovenian media are leftist tycoons. But this best kept family secret will only remain a secret if you pay more attention to emotions than facts. Facts matter.
Hoping that you are now familiar with the other side of the coin as well, we greet you in your excellence
Jože Biščak in Vinko Vasle«
Jože Biščak is the editor-in-chief of the conservative-oriented magazine Demokracija, president of the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists and author of the books Zgodbe iz Kavarne Hayek, Zapisi konservativnega liberalca and Potovati z Orwellom.
Vinko Vasle is a longtime journalist and editor, former director of the national Radio Slovenia and the author of several novels, including Purgarji, Darovalec, Arhivar, Prva hiša na Marsu and Pisma podpore in upora.