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Friday, December 2, 2022

It Is Outright Scandalous That The Agency For Communication Networks And Services, A State Body Of The Executive Branch Of Power, Has Such A Censorial Role! Nova24TV Will Initiate Administrative Proceedings

By: Domen Mezeg / Nova24tv

“This is censorship (prohibition of publishing or confiscation of a publication by the authorities) in the original sense of the word. It is scandalous that the Agency for Communication Networks and Services of the Republic of Slovenia (Agencija za komunikacijska omrežja in storitve Republike Slovenije – AKOS), a state body of the executive branch of power, has such a censorship role. (Nova24TV). Hey, Boris Tomašič, this is ripe for a constitutional review of the law,” the former Director of the “Demokracija” magazine (“Democracy”), Jože Biščak, responded to the Agency’s decision that “incitement to violence and hatred” took place on the show “Who Is Lying to You?” (“Kdo vam laže?”).

The Agency for Communication Networks and Services of the Republic of Slovenia is becoming more and more like yet another apparatchik under the influence of the ruling authorities. The web portal of the largest commercial television channel recently reported that the Agency, through an inspection against the broadcaster of the Nova24TV television programme, NTV24.si, identified “incitement to violence and hatred” on the show “Who Is Lying to You?” which was broadcast on the 28th of June. Therefore, the Audio-visual Media Services Act was allegedly breached. The

case is eerily reminiscent of the search for the enemy within, in the style of the secret police of the former regime.

But let’s first remember what actually happened on the 28th of June: an unnamed viewer called in to the programme and, apparently frustrated by the unsustainable situation in the country, cried out dismissively: “The fight for Slovenia will now be repeated /…/ Those of you who have weapons at home, do not hand them over to the police. Those of us who don’t have them will buy them, so we can then settle the score.” Tomašič, saddened by this, noted that the caller was probably right and added: “They came to power with blood, APPARENTLY they are only going to leave the positions of power by being forcibly removed.” And indeed, recently Prime Minister Robert Golob, in the style of the Duce, bellowed about the prosecution of “hate speech.” This was part of an uncritical response to the accusations made by Nika Kovač against Janez Janša and Nova24TV.

It is entirely clear to anyone who knows what is what that this is about something else entirely – the Prime Minister, in his self-importance, cannot stand even a hint of criticism, and therefore, he is trying to silence the few strong, critical voices in society that dare to hold up a mirror to him. This is a chilling prediction of the inquisition of the disobedient and insubordinate. And indeed, we did not have to wait long for the insidious attack on MEP Branko Grims to happen, as he was spat on and pushed down the stairs by a stranger just a few days after the announcement in question. And after that, the car of our media house was also vandalised. There have been more such acts in the past, but none of the leading representatives of the left or the righteous “civil society” have condemned them.

Janša was threatened with death, MP Horvat was spat at! This is a consequence of the tolerance of the promotion of anti-government ideas at the Friday protests that were happening over the last two years, during the term of the previous government, which individual MPs even legitimised with their participation in the events. It is a consequence of the death threats against Janez Janša and his government, the public spitting in the face of the New Slovenia MP Jožef Horvat, and other atrocious acts. The leader of the parliamentary group of the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS), Jelka Godec, recently pointed out that since the beginning of the current government term, opposition MPs are often greeted by three or four individuals near the building of the National Assembly, who insult them, humiliate them and even threaten them with death. The ruling party is blaming the opposition for the rise of violence in society, but the fact is that it is the ruling party, which has an increasing (indirect) influence on the media space, that tolerates and allows this situation to persist.

And to point the finger at Nova24TV, which represents a minor part of the media space, while at the same time constantly trying to completely subjugate the national media outlet Radio-Television Slovenia (through select members and organisations of the civil society) is a complete sham. After all, the Minister of Culture, Asta Vrečko, is “watching over” Radio-Television Slovenia with her unconcealed dislike of the opposition, and she is constantly “liquidating” all those who do not conform to the party line from important positions. This is that same spirit that aspires to total power and which we got a taste of in a bloody war decades ago…

With the strengthening of the government’s indirect influence on the media, the matter is indeed becoming “a bit Orban-esque,” as the current presidential candidate Nataša Pirc Musar would say. As a result, we can expect even more hostility towards the “second-rate” citizens. And this is where Tomašič’s dark premonition is coming from – unfortunately, history can repeat itself and perhaps the people will realise who they have been supporting all this time only them – when things will have already gone past the point of no return, and it will already be too late… Let’s remember the ominous exclamation: “We slaughtered you in 1945, and we will slaughter you again!”

The Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists (Slovensko združenje domoljubnih novinarjev) has also responded to the brutal censorship attack on Nova24TV by a state body and the deliberate damaging of the property of a private television station by writing: “We at the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists are following the developments in the media space with concern, where not a day goes by that the media with the conservative worldview are not attacked. Today, we were outraged to learn that the Agency for Communication Networks and Services of the Republic of Slovenia (AKOS) has ordered Nova24TV to withdraw part of an episode of the show ‘Who Is Lying to You?’ The reason given was ‘incitement to violence and hatred against a group of persons or a member of such a group on the grounds of belief, political or other opinions’.

The Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists notes that this is a typical example of censorship, where a state body, part of the executive branch of power, uses its position of power to prohibit publishing or confiscate a publication of a private publisher. Regardless of what the Audio-visual Media Services Act says, we believe that the Agency has put itself in the role of arbiter and censor on what is suitable content for publication and what is not. It is for the courts to decide whether a publication really promotes violence and hatred, not for a state official (both of whom are constrained in their actions by the fundamental human right of freedom of speech). This is an abuse of power for political and ideological purposes. We call on the Agency to revoke and withdraw the decision against Nova24TV and to apologise to the media company and its presenter Boris Tomašič.

If it does not do so, we propose that Nova24TV initiates the proceeding of a constitutional review of the law that allows a state body or official to make a judgment on a possible criminal offence (which is the task of the courts) and on at least two constitutional categories (the presumption of innocence and the right to express and disseminate opinions). In countries built on the foundation of the rule of law, only the judicial branch of government has the power to do such a thing. What the Agency has allowed itself to do, we at the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists understand as a brutal censorship attack by a state body not only on freedom of speech but also on the private television station Nova24TV and on the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia.

We at the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists were also outraged to hear that strangers had vandalised the car of the Nova24TV media outlet. In Slovenia, private property is protected by the Constitution, and no one has the right to deliberately damage another’s property. We therefore expect the law enforcement authorities to treat the damage to Nova24TV’s property with the utmost seriousness,

to investigate the matter and to find the perpetrators. For the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists,

Jože Biščak, President

In Ljubljana on the 4th of November 2022”

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