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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Urbanija: “What Is Happening At RTV Is A Crime”

By: Andrej Žitnik (Nova24tv.si)

We, ordinary people, go to work and arrange our annual leave by telling our employers when we plan on being away in December already. The private sector work process cannot afford to have a worker absent from work for two weeks and the employer finding out about it right before a big order, for example. However, on the planet of public administration, this is a different story – especially at the national media outlet Radio-Television Slovenia (RTVS), which is a story in itself. The Director of TV Slovenija, Uroš Urbanija, has fired the editor of the culture programme Zemira A. Pečovnik for her unjustified absence and even lying to her superiors. All the NGOs that had been showered with euros by the current government immediately jumped to her defence and expressed their support for the editor – without even knowing the details of the case. Urbanija explained his side of the story on a recent episode of the show Odmevi (Echoes).

When we read the timeline, we can quickly see that it is an almost criminal sequence of actions by a civil servant: lies, conspiracies, misleading, and arranging leave after already being gone. But this is obviously the modus operandi of the editors and journalists of RTV Slovenia, because the entire media scene, together with the RTV employees, came to the rescue of the sacked editor.

Helena Milinković, one of the far-left journalists of RTV Slovenia, also known as Igor Kadunc’s megaphone, and otherwise the leader of the journalists’ unions’ strike at RTV, said that the journalist and poet in question had already found herself in the disfavour of the management when she “allowed” Svetlana Makarović to appear on the stage of the celebration of Prešeren Day, the Slovenian Cultural Holiday. She claims that since then, the journalist has been prevented from travelling abroad. The trade union is of the opinion that the journalist acted correctly [by travelling abroad] and only wanted to fulfil her work obligation.

The Urbanija – Bergant clash on the show Odmevi

Uroš Urbanija “clashed” with Igor E. Bergant, the host of the show Odmevi, who clearly dislikes him and who set the rules of the game right from the start by saying that Urbanija was accusing “their long-standing prominent journalist” of deliberate lying. Of course, it is clear to everyone that you should not start interviews by using pejorative adjectives to describe the person who is going to be discussed, and perhaps Bergant would have known that if he hadn’t come to RTV by way of nepotism.

The journalist lied and went on her trip without a camera crew

Urbanija then explained that the journalist in question had applied for a 10-day business trip abroad in April and had been granted a three-day trip instead. She subsequently sent a request for a seven-day trip. He reiterated that, as he had done the first time, he had approved a three-day trip. Whereupon the journalist came to him and asked for a ten-day trip anyway. The reason she gave was that she had booked the apartment for her trip a year ago and had already paid for it. In view of this information, Urbanija asked her if she could send him all the documentation relating to the booking. It turned out that the journalist had actually rented the flat on the 18th of April 2023, not a year ago, and on the 29th of April 2023, she was still arranging to pay for the flat – meaning that she did that after she had already been refused the trip. She also made the journey without a cameraman.

“Now imagine a professional television programme without a cameraman. I found that in itself unacceptable,” Urbanija said.

The real problem was not the business trip, but the fraud

Bergant asked Urbanija why he, as the Acting Director of TV Slovenia, was bothered about how many days a journalist would be travelling on a business trip, adding that they had people inside the institution trained to do that.

Urbania replied: “How can a TV journalist report from Cannes without a camera crew? That’s the question: are we going to Cannes on a tourist trip or to actually do our job?”

Bergant told him that they could hire crews there (it is very interesting that they would hire foreign cameramen when they have a small army of cameramen at home!?), whereupon Urbanija replied: “That would be a requirement for this trip. But the requirement was also the insistence on ten days. The problem with that was the cheating. That is to say, justifying the ten days with the claim that the journalist had rented the flat a year ago, which turned out to be a lie. What happened next was fraud on fraud. The journalist still went on the trip despite the disapproval. When I noticed after five days that she was not at work, I asked her superiors to grant her leave if she had asked for it. It turned out that she had not asked for leave. But she sent me a justification that she could go on the trip even if the Director did not approve it. The next day she returned from a business trip. Regardless of the situation, she still asked for leave retrospectively and even for sick leave, for which I filed a criminal complaint with the police. This is a series of events. In the end, she asked her superiors to record 10 work hours for each day she was in Cannes, and not only on weekdays, but also on Saturdays and Sundays.”

Bergant claimed that the editor-in-chief had no knowledge of the offence, Urbanija proved that he was lying

Bergant told Urbanija that the editor was saying something different, that Urbanija had also been abusive towards the journalist on several occasions and that the editor in charge of the cultural programme still did not understand the reasoning behind his termination of the journalist’s employment.

Urbanija said that he had only spoken to the journalist and the editor once before, and that there were minutes recorded about it, but the first real official record in this respect was on the 23rd of May, when the Director announced the sanctions, and the editor-in-chief was present at that time, so Bergant’s information is not correct.

Bergant insisted and accused the Director between the lines of playing dirty political games and even playing a chess game with the new Programme Council, while journalists are merely pawns on the chess board for him.

If someone cheats, sanctions follow

Urbanija was clear: “If someone cheats, whether it is you or me, sanctions follow. The labour law applies and should apply to everyone in this house. But we do have a number of problems in this institution, a number of problems precisely with cheating in terms of recording working hours.”

Urbanija pointed out that a secretary warned one of the RTV reporters that one day she had gone out on a work trip and hadn’t come back, and the next day she hadn’t even logged her hours, whereupon the reporter replied, “Write me down for eight hours each time, and that is it! But yesterday, I went out for a smoke with my colleagues, and I forgot to check out, and I don’t remember what happened on the next day.” Urbanija pointed out that RTV employees are paid with taxpayers’ money, and this way of working, when it does not matter whether you work eight hours or 10, or you do not even know whether you have been at work or not, apparently seems normal to the employees there.

“This is actually a crime,” Urbanija concluded.

This is common practice at RTV

The media outlet Požareport even published the testimony of a former employee of RTV Slovenia with 38 years of service, who confirmed that the case of the editor Zemira is a completely normal practice in the public institution RTV. Her colleague in

the editorial department took it for granted that she was entitled to paid leave when her pet died, and she stayed at home because of it. The source adds that otherwise, the cultural editorial office is an example of the uncultured and primitive nature of most female journalists who could only get employed at this institution.


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