By: Sara Bertoncelj / Nova24tv
Bojan Veselinovič announced today that talks with the director of the government’s communications office Uroš Urbanija on a public service contract in 2021 were unsuccessful and that he could not agree to the conditions under which “a government representative is forcing payment for a public service provided by STA for free now for the 273rd day”. He therefore resigned as director of the STA. The director of Ukom responded to this by estimating that Veselinovič did not have a sincere desire to sign a contract and settle the situation at STA. “Since there were no more arguments why not to sign the contract, he preferred to resign,” he wrote, adding that he had lost all legal proceedings so far.
“Today’s decision of STA director Bojan Veselinovič is a kind of surprise,” Ukom director Uroš Urbanija responded to the resignation of STA director Bojan Veselinovič. After Ukom complied with practically all of his demands, except for those that were in clear conflict with the law, a new contract was prepared for signing. “But after today’s resignation, it seems that Veselinovič did not have a sincere desire to sign a contract and settle the situation at STA. As there were no more arguments why not to sign the contract, he preferred to resign,” Urbanija explained Veselinović’s move, adding that this was unfortunately the way director Veselinović was acting last year.
It took as many as six months for Veselinovič to deliver the required documentation to Ukom, and even here it later turned out that he had manipulated this documentation and concealed some things. When the Government of the Republic of Slovenia regulated the obligations of Ukom with a Decree, as requested by Veselinovič, Veselinović paradoxically opposed this Decree through the court. Therefore, funding could not be settled as early as July. Veselinovič initiated numerous proceedings against Ukom, but to this day he has lost everything. Also the last trial in the Supreme Court, which clearly told him that a government decree applies and that it even facilitates funding.
The chairman of the STA supervisory board, Mladen Terčelj, confirmed that Bojan Veselinovič had informed all members of the board that he was resigning from the position of STA director as of today. “I will convene an emergency meeting of the supervisory board, where we will examine the situation, as a solution will have to be found for the further management and existence of STA,” said Terčelj. After the resignation of director Veselinovič, STA employees expect that those responsible will urgently resolve the agency’s position in a way that respects the legislation and preserves the STA’s institutional autonomy and editorial independence. They wrote that they will continue to strongly oppose any attempts to put pressure on journalistic work in the future. The government has not yet allocated funds for the public service performed by STA this year. Initially, the payment was conditioned by certain documentation, and later by a change in the method of performing and charging the public service – among other things, it turned out that Veselinovič charged for certain services twice in the past, and public services were not available to all and equally in the manner prescribed by law.
Association of Journalists and Publicists: “In the Association of Journalists and Publicists, we see Bojan Veselinovič’s resignation from the position of STA director, to which we in the ZNP have often been critical in the past, as an opportunity for the Government Communication Office and STA to reach an agreement on further funding. The complications have been dragging on for too long and do not benefit anyone, neither STA nor Ukom and the government. In the future, the financing of STA must be such that it enables the agency to operate smoothly at the current level, and at the same time enables an increase in salaries. As employees point out, salaries at STA have remained practically the same since 2009, which is why the best journalists are gradually leaving the agency. STA as an agency that provides key information about what is happening in society and the country is necessary and as such is in the interest of all. However, we want it to follow the programme standards and the press code more in its work.”
Veselinovič thinks the only solution is to pay on the basis of legal obligations – that is, without knowing and checking what is being paid for
“The proposal of Ukom’s contract contains conditions that are not acceptable for journalistic work, nor do they guarantee the institutional and thus financial autonomy of STA. On the one hand, the amount of funding for the STA public service would depend entirely on the judgment of the Ukom director as to what will be paid and what will not, and on the other hand, the newly set restrictions would lead to a large loss of market revenues,” explained the editorial board, representative body of the editorial board, the workers’ council, and the STA journalists’ union. According to Veselinovič, the decree on the provision of public service by STA “lays the foundation for such a contract, which would violently change the successful business model of STA, reduce our market activity, revenues and thus the number of employees.” In addition, he believes it would cover up the hitherto unpaid debt to the STA that the state owes under the law. The contract proposed by the government would condition the amount and method of calculating the compensation according to the principle of counting photographs and journalistic articles and prescribe their lengths in paragraphs, and would apply even before the entry into force of the regulation. Veselinovič emphasises that the solution is in the palm of your hand: payment based on legal obligations. In other words – let it continue to be paid without checking what is actually being paid for and how the work is done.
From now on, Veselinovič is supposed to rule Odlazak’s empire
Veselinovič’s term would otherwise expire at the end of this year – he has been the director of the STA since 2009. Recently, we also exclusively reported that a new job is waiting for him with the media tycoon Martin Odlazek. According to our source, he is supposed to become the director/super-editor of the centralised editorial office in Vevče. Technically, this should look like that Veselinovič’s journalistic team will provide content for the entire media empire.