The opposition is convinced that the Ministry of Culture has allocated funds to media outlets that are pro-government. That is why the chairwoman of the Committee for Culture, Violeta Tomić, convened an extraordinary session of the committee, where the members voted on the appropriateness of the tender of the Ministry of Culture. The proposals of the oppositions for the reappointment of the committee and the evaluation of the applications for redistribution of funds to the media did not get enough support – they were one vote short, so the decision was not adopted.
The chairwoman of the Committee for Culture of the National Assembly from the ranks of the Levica party (the Left), Violeta Tomić, demanded the convening of an extraordinary session, as she wanted to discuss the recent tender of the Ministry of Culture on the basis of which funds were awarded to the media outlets. Namely, she believes that certain key media outlets of special importance were left without funds, and her wish was for the tender to be reopened and for the applications to be re-evaluated by a newly formed commission.
The emergency session was convened due to the Call for co-financing of media programmes in 2021, at which many of the media outlets, including the central mainstream newspapers (Delo, Dnevnik, Mladina) and local radio stations with the status of special importance (Radio Študent, Koroški radio, Radio Krka, Radio Triglav Jesenice, Radio Kranj), were left without any state co-financing, while some other media outlets received funds, which, contrary to the opposition’s claims, are not actually all pro-government. “By not financing Radio Koroška, the Ministry of Culture also violated the legally prescribed right to information of the Slovenian minority living in Austria” the Levica party was critical.
The opposition accused the Minister that the expert commission of the Ministry of Culture, appointed by Vasko Simoniti, was composed of members close to the SDS party. “The result is cutting the resources for those media outlets that are critical of the government and rewarding those who praise these authorities.” They also added that this is a “politically marked media purge,” in which “independent journalism, editorial autonomy and media freedom” are being destroyed. They were most disturbed by the fact that our media outlet and the newly formed weekly Domovina received some of the funds.
SAB party MP Maša Kociper could not stomach the weekly Domovina (Homeland), which is owned by the Iskreni.net institute, which also received funding from the Ministry of Culture. Kociper is convinced that this project is just another “political pamphlet” of those who are close to the NSi party. The NSi parliamentary group believes that the most appropriate thing would be to abolish the public tenders. Instead, by increasing the percentage of the personal income tax that could be allocated to individual organisations, we would give people more decision-making power. Therefore, the people could decide for themselves who would receive their money, said NSi MP Tadeja Šuštar.
On the other hand, according to journalist Bojan Požar, Tomić also insulted Parada plesa (the Dance parade), which is owned by his partner and renowned dancer and choreographer Barbara Drnač. “The insulting words that the politician Violeta Tomić said regarding Parada plesa at the National Assembly today (at an emergency meeting of the Committee for Culture) are all the more primitive because Parada plesa does not deal with politics at all, but, paradoxically, with culture. And also, the owner of Parada plesa was not even there to defend herself, and her only “sin” is that she is the partner of a journalist – the very journalist who had to listen to Tomić, now a member of the Levica party, complain to him after an interview in March 2015, when she was still a failing actress, that she urgently needed to go into politics because she did not have even a penny left,” Požar responded to Tomić’s actions on Twitter.
SDS MP Alenka Jeraj trusts and believes that the commission performed its duties according to the criteria that are known and clear. Her parliamentary colleague Mojca Škrinjar stated that she believes the meeting of the committee was only convened because, in addition to many other media outlets, Nova24TV also received a subsidy, namely, 19,500 euros out of the 2.5 million euros, which was the total value of the tender. “We are, to paraphrase Violeta Tomić, an evil that has metastasised. And according to Lidija Divjak Mirnik, the hands of the members of the commission for media subsidies should rot. All of this just because Nova24TV received 19,500 euros out of the 2.5 million,” Škrinjar later responded to the situation in a tweet.
The MPs rejected the committee’s resolutions
After the session, which lasted for several hours, MPs of the coalition then rejected the resolutions proposed by the Committee for Culture. The latter demanded that the Ministry officially cancel and annul the results of the tender within three days and repeat the public tender for co-financing of the media programmes for 2021. They also demanded the appointment of an expert commission, “whose members will be adequately educated, with demonstrable competencies and experience in the field to which the tender relates, and whose operation will be exclusively professional, impartial and politically neutral.”
Yesterday’s vote also appears to have affected the vandals, as they attacked the Ministry of Culture again last night. Once again, strangers painted graffiti on the building’s façade, this time, they went with swastikas.