By: Sara Bertoncelj / Nova24TV
“Who will create the truth?” Matej T. Vatovec, an MP of the Levica party (the Left), wrote on Twitter, commenting on the resignation of Bojan Veselinovič, director of the Slovenian Press Agency (Slovenska tiskovna agencija – referred to as the STA). “STA is the pillar of all news for the media. The equation is simple: whoever controls the production of STA controls the production of truths and news that appear in the Slovenian landscape,” Vatovec admitted what is already known – that the media mostly sell the truth, launched by the STA. Following Orwell’s example, what is more than obviously Slovenia’s version of the “Ministry of Truth” has so far been under the control of the left, and after the resignation of the STA director, the leftists began to worry about someone other than “one of theirs” taking the director’s chair, as that would probably result in the agency being too objective in its reporting.
The Government Communication Office agreed to Bojan Veselinovič’s demands, and in 99 percent it also agreed with how much individual elements of the public service should cost. The only thing they could not agree with were the wishes of the now-former director of STA to include things that are in obvious conflict with the existing legislation – especially the Slovenian Press Agency Act – in the contract. According to director Uroš Urbanija, this was unacceptable and, after all, also illegal. Regardless of that, a contract was prepared at the Government Communication Office, and all that was needed then was a signature. But Veselinovič ran out of arguments and, rather than signing the contract, resigned. Or is he in such a hurry to get to Odlazek’s media empire that he was unable to wait two more months for his term to expire anyway?
Veselinovič did not like the fact that he would have to follow the law when it came to the photographic service. Namely, according to the Slovenian Press Agency Act, photographs are part of the public service, and the law clearly defines that the public service should be accessible to everyone free of charge, under the same conditions. In addition, the photographs are not defined among the marketing activities either – so they cannot be sold under any circumstances. However, Veselinovič simply wanted the Government Communication Office or the state to pay for the STA’s photos, and then they would charge for them again on the market, mostly to media subscribers. Which is by no means fair or just.
Urbanija wanted the press agency to operate transparently
The opposition, of course, reacted sharply, saying that the director of the STA succumbed under government pressure, and they believe that now there are only two options left – either the payment is made on the basis of legal obligations, or the Slovenian Press Agency goes bankrupt. “The SD party passed the law on the Slovenian Press Agency, and the SD party is the one that defined and supported the idea that the photographic service – which is part of the dispute – should be free,” Urbanija pointed out the fact that the current government is not the one who invented this part of the law, which Veselinovič now suddenly finds controversial. However, it is clear from this complication that in the past, the director of the STA interpreted this part of the law in his own way and, in all probability, charged double for the photos.
Urbanija also reminded everyone of how this dispute even started in the first place – in October last year, the Government Communication Office asked STA for documentation on financial operations, which seemed to be problematic for Veselinovič. Namely, he refused to submit the required documentation for the next six months. Urbanija emphasised that he only wanted the press agency to operate transparently. “It is difficult to judge the position of the STA, given the contradictory information provided by the now-former director Veselinovič,” Urbanija said on the STA’s operations. Well, given that Vatovec admitted that the STA is used to creating the truth, it is quite logical that Veselinovič did the same when he claimed every month that the agency was on the verge of collapse.