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Monday, August 8, 2022

RTV’s “flood” following an emergency procedure – “A sad day for the media and a sad day for democracy”

By: L. K. F., STA

The board of the President of the National Assembly Urška Klakočar Zupančič decided today that the National Aseembly will consider the government’s proposal for an amendment to the Law on Radio television Slovenia (RTVS) under an urgent procedure. The mandate of the members of the Programme Council and the members of the Supervisory Board, the mandate of the committees attached to them, and the mandate of the general director, director of radio, and director of television shall end on the date of entry into force of this law.

The government, which proposed the consideration of the proposal for an amendment to the Act on RTVS under an urgent procedure, wants, it asserted, to prevent difficult-to-repair consequences for the functioning of the state. According to Culture Minister Asta Vrečko, the situation at RTVS is “extremely alarming”. As the Minister estimated on Friday, the proposal could be considered and adopted in the National Assembly by the summer, in the case of an emergency procedure.

The coalition voted for the urgent procedure, while the SDS voted against it. NSi did not attend the meeting.

The government’s proposal would leave leadership, management, and control to a single council of RTVS, which would have 17 members, instead of the current programme and supervisory council. The current programme council has 21 members.

Public RTV is clearly becoming apparatchik

“Apparently the masks have fallen. If the coalition cannot take over RTV by fair means, it will do so by foul. The rules of procedure of the National Assembly specify that ‘when the adoption of a law is necessary due to the interests of the security or defence of the country or to eliminate the consequences of natural disasters or to prevent difficult-to-repair consequences for the functioning of the state, the government may propose the adoption of a law following an emergency procedure’,” said Igor Pirkovič, editor and presenter at RTVS on the board’s decision.

“Under the guise of the above justification, in order to protect the security of the country and eliminate the irreversible consequences for its operation, they resorted to the most brutal attack on the current legal operation and operations of the public institution. It is a precedent case where the public media wants to be completely subordinated to the needs of the ruling policy. A sad day for the media and a sad day for democracy. The aforementioned case shows how impatient the authorities are when it comes to taking over public media. Public RTV is clearly becoming the apparatchik,” Pirkovič emphasised.

Apparently, the ruling coalition and the socio-political workers who support it are in a great hurry to subjugate the public media once again, which they perceive as their private PR-brass for as long as the country has existed, said Mitja Iršič, a journalist, publicist, and former adviser to the Minister of Culture Vasko Simoniti.

“It is, of course, a complete usurpation of the editorial and programming decisions of the public media, which we all pay for. Any deviation from the one-party line, which RTV has been following since the beginning of its existence (let’s not forget that it was created as a trumpet of one of the cruellest communist regimes in history), is unacceptable. It is clear that it is as much about depoliticisation as it is about de-Nazification in Ukraine,” Iršič is determined. He believes that it will be necessary to inform the European institutions about the political takeover of the public media. “The extraordinary, almost irrational haste we are seeing is due to the fact that they have to subjugate the public media before the start of the presidential and local elections, because the conglomerate of the left finally has the prospect of consolidating power in an absolutist manner and ruling uncompromisingly, as it did between 1945 and 1991.”

To politically tame even those few shows that are neutral in terms of programming and visuals

Professor, publicist, and political commentator Boštjan M. Turk is convinced that the decision to quickly amend the law on RTV is in line with the policy of the new coalition, in which the priority is to be in power at all costs and unconditionally: “The problem of RTV is that it does not serve its purpose, which is to be an information service for all citizens. Instead, they want to politically tame those few shows that are programmatically and conceptually neutral.”

“This policy also has a destructive attitude towards people. Where in the world is it happening that, with the cost of living increasing every day and an unknown scenario for the fall – which may soon turn into a disaster, the government decides to raise taxes and thus burden the most vital segment of citizens,” he is critical.

“We have never had such a government in the history of Slovenia. It is as if these people live in some kind of soap bubble and have no idea what is happening in the outside world. The urgent procedure for the adoption of the Law on Broadcasting reflects exactly this logic,” concluded Turk indignantly.

The current programming council, management, and some editors are bothering them

The mandate of the members of the Programme Council and the members of the Supervisory Board, the mandate of the committees attached to them, and the mandate of the general director, director of radio, and director of television shall end on the date of entry into force of this law. The new programme council would have 17 members. The employees would choose five members from their ranks, and the remaining 12 members would be appointed based on public appeals by the Italian and Hungarian national communities, the President of the State, the Parliament, the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the National Council for Culture, the Olympic Committee of Slovenia, the Information Commissioner, the Council for sustainable development and environmental protection, and human rights ombudsman.

The proposal, as a consultative body of the RTVS council, envisages the introduction of a financial committee, which will consist of five members, professionally qualified and with work experience in the financial field. Members would be appointed by the Council of RTVS at the proposal of the Ministries of Finance and Culture, the Council of Workers of RTVS, the Association of Supervisors of Slovenia and the Association of Accountants, Financiers and Auditors of Slovenia.

According to the proposal, the public institute would be led and managed by a board consisting of four members, headed by the president of the board. One board member would be a labour director. The position of director of digital content would be added to the existing positions of directors of radio and television.

European MP Romana Tomc also reacted to the board’s decision on Twitter:

I started today’s #EU_Plenary with a conversation with Commissioner @VeraJourova regarding the attempted brutal political takeover of @rtvslo.

Already yesterday, the always well-educated journalist and editor Bojan Požar published some information from behind the scenes of the government coalition related to the proposed amendments to the law on RTV Slovenia on Twitter. He wrote that “it is a project of the Levica party and the SD party against – Golob or Gibanje Svoboda party, because the latter is ‘too strong’; on RTV all positions are held by the Levica and SD anyway, Golob has nothing; MP Mojca Pašek Šetinc from Gibanje Svoboda is (again) playing the role of a useful idiot for the Levica and SD parties.”

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