Journalists Protest Against Media Reforms in Ljubljana

By , 15 Jul 2020, 19:20 PM Politics
Turn off Janšism! Free Media! Turn off Janšism! Free Media! Twitter: Luka Goršek @GorsekLuka

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STA, 15 July 2020 - Several hundred journalists and media workers gathered on Wednesday to protest against a media reform planned by the government in front of the National Assembly, where the parliamentary Culture Committee is discussing the proposed changes to three media laws.

Convinced the reform would undermine the Slovenian public media's financial stability and independence, the protesters urged the independence and freedom of the media in their addresses as well as with banners and shouts.

In an 30-minute protest, addresses were delivered by representatives of the Slovenian Journalist Association (DNS) as well as by journalists and media workers from the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), other media outlets and journalist trade unions.

The bulk of the criticism was directed at the proposal to redistribute RTV Slovenija's licence fee among RTV Slovenija (92%) and the STA (3%) and allocate 5% to promote media plurality.

The proposal to transfer the appointment of STA supervisors from parliament to the government was severely criticised as well.

"Responsible journalism must always advocate and defend the foundations of democracy in all fields of society ... we must never allow for media freedom to be undermined," said DNS head Petra Lesjak Tušek, a newspaper Večer journalist and editor.

She said the journalist profession and the entire media industry in Slovenia were being devalued, whereas many European countries understand, especially during the coronavirus crisis, that "support for media is part of the solution" rather than a problem, she said.

In a statement read on behalf of STA journalists and editors, Mojca Zorko, home desk editor, wondered who is bothered by the existing provision that the STA must not become - de fact or de iure - dependent on any ideological, political or economic grouping.

"And who would welcome changing the STA leadership every year and a half, which is the average term of Slovenian governments in the past 10 years.

"And why would anyone want to reduce the staff's influence on the appointment of editor-in-chief. The answer is clear and the consequences as well: to destabilise and discredit the STA," Zorko said, stressing the proposed changes were a major step back in providing for the STA's autonomy and independence.

TV Slovenija journalist Miša Molk said the planned cuts in RTV Slovenija's funding entailed killing the public service and politics invading the people's right to information.

The Trade Union of Journalists criticised the government's attempt to interfere in public media and urged the Culture Ministry, which is in charge of media policy, to withdraw the planned changes to the three laws.

The amendments to the media, RTV Slovenija and STA laws have been met with much criticism at home and abroad for the changes they would bring and for a mere week-long public consultation period that was initially envisaged, but prolonged yesterday.

Today's session of the parliamentary committee was demanded by the four left-leaning opposition parties, which argued they were worried about the media reports about the changes to the RTV law which were being drafted by the Culture Ministry in haste and in secret.

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