The Slovenian Democratic Party Deputy Group wrote to UNI Global Union.
This is a direct response to the letter sent by UNI to the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia on 28 October 2020.
»UNI Global Union
40. rue Joseph II
Dear Mr Studinger,
Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) Deputy Group thanks you for your letter regarding the dismisaal of the General Director of Slovenian public broadcaster RTVS. We consider the letter written in bona fide. We’ve always accepted well-grounded criticism, as we strive for improvement that contributes to the most fruitful development of our society. We would like to inform you that the content of your letter is based on incomplete and false information,. In this reagard, we would like to present you with information that will help you re-examine the state of media freedom and pluralism in Slovenia, specifically the case of dismissal of the General Director of RTVS Mr. Igor Kadunec:
- In accordance with indent 9 of paragraph 1 of Article 16 of the Radio and Television of Slovenia Act, the Director General of RTVS may only be dismissed by the RTVS Programme Council. This can only be done by a sucessful majority vote of all members of the Programme Council. As it is clear from the first indent of paragraph 3 of Article 17 of the Radio and Television Slovenia Act, persons, who were members of the bodies of political parties at the time of appointment or in the period of five years before the appointment, may not be elected or appointed to the Programme Council. Accordingly, we can ensure you that there are no persons in the RTVS Programme Council who have been members of SDS bodies in recent years.
- The Supervisory Board of RTVS was appointed for the period 2018–2020. 5 members of the RTVS Supervisory Board are nominated by the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia. According to the composition of the parliament, the SDS as the second largest party at the time was not able to suggest a representative, because the ruling coalition suggested and confirmed their choices of members. 4 members are nominated by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, 2 members are employee representatives.
- In 2019, all deputies of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia were acquainted with the Report on the work of the RTVS Programming Council in 2018. The following issues stood out in the Report:
In April 2018, the director of RTVS television Ljerka Bizilj resigned. A proposal for her dismissal was made in July 2017 by the director general of RTVS, Igor Kadunec, but the Programme Council did not dismiss her at that time.
The RTVS Programme Council did not give a positive opinion on the amended proposal of the financial plan for 2019. RTVS consequently entered 2019 with temporary funding in the amount of last year’s twelfths. The loss RTVS in 2017 amounted to EUR 720,000, and in 2018 to EUR 1.1 million.
In November 2018, the RTVS Supervisory Board sent an Initiative to dismiss the RTVS General Director to the Programme Council. Of the 11 Board members, 8 signed the initiative. We must emphasize that there was no representative of the SDS party among them. The initiative for dismissal was given due to illegality in employment and improper transfer of employees to RTVS; due to the suspicion of at least two conflicts of interest and due to non-implementation of the decisions of the Supervisory Board.
Among other things, the General Director of RTVS was accused of not informing the Supervisory Board in a timely manner about his son’s cooperation with one of the film companies cooperating with RTVS. Furthermore, he did not follow the internal acts and use internal or public announcements to appoint associates the employment contracts.
On 10 April 2018, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption found that the Director General of RTVS is gulity of having a conflict of interest because he signed Decision E14-61 / 2016 on 26 May 2017, by which he, as the responsible person of the institution, decided that the Taurus project contractor Makus Bojan Labović, s. p., becomes a co-production cooperator with an RTVS’s contribution of up to EUR 50,000 plus VAT. He had and still has business contacts with the project leader Bojan Labović, as they are both members of the board of the Slovenian Film Center, but he did not inform the chairman of the management body of the public institution RTVS of this association. According to the Comissions’s findings, he thus violated the first paragraph of Article 37 and the first paragraph of Article 38 of the Integrity and Prevention of Corruption Act. The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption informed the management of RTVS about this.
In response, Director Kadunc acknowledged some irregularities, but added that they are being rectified. He acknowledged that in certain cases, such as promotions or transfers, RTVS has employed associates without internal or public disclosure. According to him, the RTVS legal service did not see any irregularities in this, and due to doubts, they asked the law firm for an opinion, which found that public announcement was always necessary. He also admitted that when concluding contracts for expert fields, special rules were not respected, because this was supposed to be the modus operandi before his arrival.
The vote at the RTVS Programme Council for the dissmisal of director Kadunc failed, as the dismisaal was supported by 14 councilors, and 15 votes would have been needed. 12 councilors voted against the dismissal.
- In 2020, the deputies of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia got acquainted with the work of the RTVS Supervisory Board and the RTVS Programme Council in 2019. The following findings stood out:
The Supervisory Board asked the management of RTVS to check all the bases necessary in order to achieve the number of employees envisaged in the strategy. If the financial resources have changed, the Supervisory Board instructed the management of RTVS to start preparing changes to the strategy or by preparing a new strategy.
The Supervisory Board monitored the implementation of the financial plan in the financial, human resources and investment areas with interim reports. The Board also conducted an analysis of the movement of business indicators. The Board made a number of proposals for the urgently needed streamlining of operations, as the financial loss already amounted to EUR 3.2 million.
The Supervisory Board demanded a separate and transparent use of public funds for the purpose of improving public tasks. The Board also demanded a long-term reduction in labor costs.
In September 2019, in order to increase the regular income from the RTVS contribution, RTVS informed 19,413 existing taxpayers, who paid the contribution for radio receivers, that their contribution would increase to EUR 12.75 per month from November 2019 onwards, if they do not submit a declaration of non-possession of devices enabeling them to watch TV (smartphones included).
The Supervisory Board found that no act on job classification had been adopted by the RTVS and that some employments were in conflict with the relevant legislation and internal acts.
The Supervisory Board requested that the Director General of RTVS adopts a concrete plan of all necessary activities to eliminate the identified deficiencies and inconsistencies by January 2020; the Board also demanded that the Director General submits a report on the number of employees who do not meet the educational requirements for the position held.
As it can be seen: the proposal to dismiss the director general of RTVS is a proposal based entirely on the insufficient results of his work. As far back as in 2018, the RTVS Supervisory Board pointed out many shortcomings of the directors’s work, the most important of which is the deteriorating financial condition of the public institution. It is estimated that the loss this year will amount to EUR 7 million. Despite many calls, Director Kadunc did not implement the decisions imposed on him by the RTVS Supervisory Board and the RTVS Programme Council, which means that he did not reduce RTVS’s debt, did not prepare job systematizations, did not ensure transparent spending of public funds etc.
At the last meeting of the RTVS Supervisory Board, on 2 October 2020, they tried to replace the chairman of the Supervisory Board of RTVS Andrej Grah Whatmough. The proposal for dismissal was made by Danilo Tomšič, who was a candidate of the SD party for the position at the board.. There was no vote as the supervisors had suspended the meeting before that. It should be mentioned that the current leader of the SD party is MEP Tanja Fajon, who was a journalist for RTVS for many years.
It seems like the RTVS Supervisory Board is subject to attempts to be silenced for pointing out irregularities in the management of RTVS for several years. In particular, for pointing out the mistakes that the Director Igor Kadunc is most responsible for.
As stated in the beginning: Members of Parliament have no authority to dismiss the Director General of RTVS. Our task ends after the election of representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia to the Supervisory Board and Programme Council of RTVS.
We sincerely hope that by presenting the basic information, namely findings of the Supervisory Board and the Programme Council of RTVS, we have provided to you a more comprehensive picture of the operation of RTVS, and the grounds, on which the Programme Council proposed the dismissal of the Director General of RTVS, Mr. Igor Kadunec.
We are at your disposal for more detailed information and insight into the reports of the RTVS Supervisory Board and the RTVS Programme Council.
Slovenian Democratic Party Deputy Group«