By: Sara Kovač / Nova24tv
“Odlazek, Petrič, and Petan are putting full pressure on Golob’s government through their journalists and the media to provide them with even more taxpayer money to finance their failing business models under the guise of helping ‘credible print media’, which they themselves have financially exhausted over the past years,” warned journalist Bojan Požar. The print media crisis in the global world has been going on for some time, and the same applies to Slovenia. An additional problem is that the central Slovenian print media Delo, Dnevnik and Večer have found themselves at the centre of this trend, and Mladina’s circulation is no better. Now, due to the consequences of the wrong moves of the owners and the wrong editorial policy, their journalists are once again asking the current government for help.
In search of a solution for the existence of print media, talks between the Ministries of Culture and the Economy and the journalistic community have already started, Večer reported, explaining that the relevant ministries are already playing out aid scenarios following the example of some other countries. But it could take a few months before their implementation, because according to them, a legal basis must first be prepared that would also withstand the judgment of Brussels regarding state aid. “After the year 2022 unfolded as a sign of efforts for the autonomy of the central public service RTV Slovenia, entering 2023 there are indications of demanding challenges in the field of the increasingly difficult position of the print media,” wrote the Society of Journalists of Slovenia (DNS), where they are worried about the announced cuts in the editorial office, as well as, of course, in the executive committee of the Večer working group.
In their opinion, the financially tight situation was not only caused by circumstances in the media market, but also by irresponsible and un-strategic ownership – “both the actions of the previous owners with the gradual sale of the company’s assets and, in the current non-transparent ownership structure, the continued abandonment of the medium to a negative spiral”. Let us remind you that in July 2021 Delo reported that one of the buyers of the newspaper is Martin Odlazek. It was informally mentioned that Večer is buying six companies, including Odlazek’s Salomon and Svet24. Similar to the case of Primorske novice, the manoeuvre with several buyers was aimed at bypassing the regulator’s request for notification of 20% ownership. In April 2019, Večer Group already sold the entire portfolio of magazines, which also went into Odlazek’s hands.
“It is understandable that media tycoons, under the guise of distribution, want to use the state or taxpayers’ money to close down bad business moves and the resulting results of their media companies,” explained analyst and commentator Miran Videtič, emphasising that it is paradoxical that from people who do not they buy their media, they expect that in the role of taxpayers they will nevertheless buy these media or cover their losses. “Encouraged by the thought that they have also brought this political option a result for the electorate – which of course is true to some extent – they are now presenting the bill,” he assessed. Videtič is convinced that in the end there will be some sort of settlement or reward, as it can be seen that the media tycoons are quite aggressive when they remind Prime Minister Robert Golob how and why he won the election.
“We also call on the government and competent ministries, led by the Ministry of Culture, to address the issue of measures to support the press after the efforts to depoliticise the public RTV service and regulate the situation at the STA,” urged the board of the Association of Journalists of Slovenia and the executive board of the Večer journalists’ working group. They stated that many European countries reacted with effective measures to protect and support the press in the period after the covid crisis, which particularly harmed the print media in Slovenia even with the “planned negative moves of the previous government”, – including by subsidising the distribution of the press. “Similar measures are also urgently necessary in our country because this is the only way to preserve citizens’ right to information and access to information, including to newspapers, and thus wider media freedom,” they added – but of course they are concerned with “broader media freedom” only when it concerns them, we are sure that for the media of different political views they would not engage like that. Moreover, if it were possible, they would prefer to silence them.
This year, around 3 million euros are planned for the co-financing of media content
“However, we are aware that the mentioned tender cannot solve the problems of print media. Therefore, following the example of several EU countries, we will analyse various forms of aid to print media, both systemic and interventional. Together with the Ministry of the Economy, Tourism and Sport and the Ministry of Finance, we will establish an interdepartmental operational group as soon as possible, which will propose solutions to the problems of the print media within the framework of legal and budgetary options,” announced the ministry, which is headed by Asta Vrečko, wrote Večer.