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Left party (Levica) welcomed Urbanija’s dismissal

“The Council of RTV Slovenia has given its consent for the dismissal of Uroš Urbania from the position of Acting Director of Television Slovenia. There were no votes against the decision.” This is how the Left party (Levica) welcomed Urbanija’s dismissal, and the leftist non-governmental organisation, the 8th of March Institute, also spoke out.

Yesterday, the Council of the national media outlet, Radio-Television Slovenia (RTVS), gave its consent to the RTVS Management to dismiss Uroš Urbanija from the post of Acting Director of Television Slovenia (TVS). The Councillors also agreed with the management’s proposal to appoint Andraž Pöschl as the new Acting Director of TV Slovenia. Both decisions were unanimously adopted by the RTVS Council, which is particularly worrying in a democratic society and indicates the ideological monolithic nature of a body that is predominantly made up of non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Just like the Director-General of RTV Slovenia, Andrej Grah Whatmough, before him, Urbanija was dismissed in spite of the rules. Peter Jančič pointed out in his article on the Spletni časopis (Online Journal) web portal that Urbanija was not allowed to defend himself against the accusations that the new Director-General of RTVS, Zvezdan Martić, had used to dismiss him prematurely as interim Director of Television Slovenia. According to the new Radio-Television Slovenia Act, adopted by the coalition, whose validity was suspended for some time by the Constitutional Court, Urbanija had already been dismissed as the Director of Television Slovenia, and is still acting as the Acting Director until the new RTVS Council chooses a new Director through a public tender. But the personnel purge implemented by the new, “free” leadership of the national media outlet was so rushed that on Thursday, Urbanija was dismissed as Acting Director even before a successor was chosen by a public tender, which was required for the change of top management by law – from the days of a different majority in parliament. They acted on the principle that it does not matter if the new Acting Director is literate (meaning, he meets the conditions and is the best candidate), as long as he is not of the right-wing worldview. They appointed Andraž Pöeschl as the new Acting Director of Television Slovenia. They make no secret of the fact that this is a political purge in the media outlet in question. They are even celebrating it.

The road to dictatorship

What is equally worrying is the cheerleading of politics when it comes to the national media outlet that should represent and belong to all citizens. Which, once again, proves that this is a political showdown with the sole intention of taking over complete control of Radio-Television Slovenia. And it also shows that, as a society, we are gradually sliding towards a dictatorship as we knew it before the year 1991. That is why we can be particularly concerned about the assessment by critical intellectuals that this is a restoration of the previous system.

We also saw some interesting responses to this situation on social media, with the left-wing NGO the 8th of March Institute pointing out that Urbanija has now been dismissed. The Left party, in addition to writing about the Council voting on his dismissal without a vote against it, also posted a photo of Urbanija, with an added inscription of “Goodbye, Urbanija” on top. However, Urbanija responded to the party’s tweet, writing: “Do not rejoice too soon. You do have 17 councillors and 100-percent control of Radio-Television Slovenia, dear Left party, but this is a dictatorship – not a democracy. And it cannot last long.”
Other people also responded to the aforementioned tweet, with investigative journalist Bojan Požar writing: “When one political party celebrates the replacement of the Director of a public media outlet, this is all the proof you need to know that what is happening at Radio-Television Slovenia is, once again, political staffing (or a showdown), and nothing else.” Meanwhile, Professor Žiga Turk wrote that we clearly have a government that is openly working on the restoration of the previous political system. “Their instincts are totalitarian. Now and then, they accidentally let them show in public.” Lawyer Damijan Terpin added: “The best proof of the ‘plural’ composition of the Council of RTV Slovenia. The situation is the same in Belarus.”

We have also sent questions about the situation in question to journalistic organisations and will publish their responses when we receive them.

M. P.


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