Depoliticization or just changing the current management of RTV Slovenia?

Proponents of the amendment to the law on RTV Slovenia say that depoliticization is necessary, while opponents believe that the main purpose of the changes is only to remove the management.

The strike has lasted for 187 days

Journalists and creators at RTV Slovenia have been on strike for 187 days. They demand journalistic, editorial and institutional autonomy, respect for professional, programming and ethical standards, withdrawal of harmful decisions of the programming council, agreement on personnel policy and negotiations on raising the minimum wages. At the same time, they demand the resignation of the general director of RTV Slovenia Andrej Grah Whatmoughresponsible editor of the information program of TV Slovenia Jadranke Rebernikacting editor of the editorial office for new media Igor Pirkovič and the president of the program council Petar Gregorčič.

On Sunday, voters will go to the polls for the third time in a row. After the second round of presidential elections and local elections, three legislative referendums are now on the line, which were requested by the opposition SDS based on the signatures of voters.

“Are you in favor of the law on amendments and additions to the Law on Radio and Television Slovenia, which was adopted by the National Assembly on July 21, 2022?” will be one of the three referendum questions. It is about deciding on the first substantive amendment to the 17-year-old law on national television, which was adopted by the National Assembly during the first government Janez Janša.

The government parties Gibanja Svoboda (GS), Social Democrats (SD) and Left already announced the reform of the media legislation in the campaign before the April parliamentary elections. After the victory of GS in the elections, they committed themselves in the coalition agreement to “impossibility of continuous political interference and hostile takeovers of independent public media”.

Failure to comply with the law

According to the current law, Radiotelevision Slovenia is represented by the general manager, who is appointed by the program council. This is the highest authority of the public RTV institute, while the operation of the institute is supervised by the Supervisory Board. The Program Council has 29 members, 72 percent or 21 members are appointed by the National Assembly. The Supervisory Board has 11 members, and the appointment of nine is in the hands of the National Assembly and the government.

It was the appointment of members of the program council during the previous mandate of the National Assembly that raised a lot of dust in the public eye. In accordance with the current legislation, the National Assembly therefore appoints 21 members, five of whom are nominated by political parties. Article 17 of the Law on RTV Slovenia states that “to the greatest extent possible, it must take into account the representation of parties in the National Assembly.”

In the coalition agreement, the government parties pledged to “impossibility of continuous political interference and hostile takeovers of independent public media”.

The National Assembly whistled at this provision of the law and, under the leadership of Janš’s minority coalition, appointed members of the program council Dejan Cesar, proposed by the Desus parliamentary group, Anuša Gašaproposed by the SMC parliamentary group, Vaneta Gošnik at the suggestion of SNS, Jožef Jerovško at the proposal of SDS and Majo Lapornik at the proposal of NSi.

Jožef Jerovšek is a former prominent SDS member of parliament. Anuša Gaši was a former the representative of SMC for public relations, while Dejan Cesar was then the public relations representative of the Desus parliamentary group. After the controversial appointment of the National Assembly, it also turned out that Vane Gošnik does not pay the RTV contribution, but even has to be robbed of it.

In the Desus party, they did not define themselves regarding the proposal of their parliamentary group and did not agree with the selection. As the party president wrote in December Love Jasničthe parliamentary group, which compared to the party did not support Janš’s minority government, formulated the proposal itself and thus excluded the party’s competent authorities from the personnel procedure.

STA

The former coalition under the leadership of Janez Janša ensured that less than half of the National Assembly did not have a representative in the program board of RTV.

MPs from the opposition parties LMŠ, Left, SD, SAB and unaffiliated MPs did not get any members in the program council, although the law clearly stipulates that party representation in the National Assembly must be taken into account to the greatest extent possible. Two-thirds of the members of the current program council were appointed by the National Assembly in the previous mandate, when the coalition of Janez Janša ruled. At the same time, he made sure that most of the members who were elected to the DZ on the proposal of other organizations and civil society were at least sympathizers of the right-wing political parties.

The National Assembly and the government would be left without their “representatives”

In accordance with the amendment to the law on RTV Slovenia, which is the subject of a referendum, politics would no longer appoint any members to the bodies of the public institution. Instead of the 29-member program board and the 11-member supervisory board, a single body would be introduced – the institution’s board, which would have 17 members. Six representatives would be employees, and the remaining 11 would be representatives of the public.

Among them, one would be appointed by the Italian and Hungarian national communities, the President of the Republic based on a call to registered religious communities, the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Sazu), the Olympic Committee of Slovenia, the Information Commissioner, the Council for Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection, the umbrella organization of disability organizations, Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia, and two members of the National Council for Culture. The council of the institution would otherwise appoint and dismiss a five-member finance committee.

Instead of a general director, RTV Slovenia would be led and managed by a board that would have a four-year mandate and would consist of four members. The mandate of the current program and supervisory board would cease to apply no later than 60 days after the amendment comes into force, the amendment to the law stipulates.

Politically appointed programming council ensures impartiality?

On Tuesday, a confrontation took place on national television between supporters and opponents of the amendment to the law on RTV Slovenia, who registered as organizers of the referendum campaign. Advocates emphasized that the existing law is outdated, while RTV Slovenia must be depoliticized. Opponents of the amendment accused them that the term depoliticization is misleading, as the real purpose of the amendment is to change the current management of the institution.

The initiators of the referendum are otherwise against the changes, as they consider that they recklessly introduce a new management and control body, which, under the guise of depoliticization, abolishes the program and supervisory council, which guarantees impartiality and balance, the Slovenian Press Agency reported. At the same time, the ruling coalition is accused of having prevented the public and interested stakeholders from giving their views, ideas, proposals and initiatives by adopting the amendment following an emergency procedure.

On the other hand, the proponents of the legislative changes are convinced that the amendment brings about the depoliticization of the public institution, as the current arrangement, according to which 21 members of the program council out of 29 were appointed by the National Assembly, posed too great a risk of concentration of power in one political or interest center.

According to their assessment, reducing the number of members of the institution’s council will enable more rational operation and reduce costs, while at the same time the number is large enough for the council to demonstrate the necessary social plurality or balance.


The article is in Slovenian

Tags: Depoliticization changing current management RTV Slovenia

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