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State Authority Orders The Cancellation Of Another Programme Critical Of The Current Government

The Putinisation of Slovenian media continues. The Agency for Communication Networks and Services (AKOS) has issued a decision that TV3 must remove the episode of the show Faktor (Factor), in which Roman Vodeb was critical of the Speaker of the National Assembly Urška Klakočar Zupančič, or graphically write that it is a “hostile” programme. The fact that the Agency in question is becoming more and more like another apparatchik under the influence of the ruling party is also evidenced by the fact that another critical programme, Kdo vam laže? (Who Is Lying To You?), broadcast on the 28th of June, was similarly targeted, where it was identified as “inciting violence and hatred”. The case is eerily reminiscent of the search for the enemy within, in the style of the secret police of the former regime.

The Agency for Communication Networks and Services has once again found that a show was inciting hatred, but this time on the basis of gender. Psychoanalyst Roman Vodeb said of Urška Klakočar Zupančič‘s criminal complaint to the police and of the Agency in question: “It does not seem to me that I have said anything on the show Faktor that is not true or not legitimate – because of the logic of the unconscious, which, according to psychoanalytic logic, is always sexual. The fact that she is offended if she hears something about herself that she does not want to hear – perhaps even on the principle of ‘the truth hurts’ – should not be a reason to take legal action against someone, to denounce them to the police and even to activate the Communication Network and Services Agency.”

The Agency had already ordered TV3 to take action (to take the show down or to write that it was hostile) by its decision of the 14th of June 2023, but TV3 did not do so, which was verified on the 20th of September 2023, and a day later they issued a decision authorising administrative enforcement by indirect coercion. The decision stipulates that within an additional period of ten days from the date of service, TV3 must ensure that whenever the programme episode of the show Faktor in question is broadcast again, the following text message is broadcast at all times: “The programme has been found by the Agency for Communication Networks and Services of the Republic of Slovenia to incite hatred against a group of persons or a member of such a group on grounds of their gender.” Failure to do so would prevent the programme from being broadcast again.

The “flagging” of a programme critical of the authorities has surprised and horrified many. Tomaž Štih asked, “Have you ever seen a foreign programme critical of a politician with a sign saying that it is hostile to the politician?” and Edvard Kadič suggested that TV3 should repeat the programme every week, every two months, with promotion beforehand, and the text displayed, of course, because that is how legends are born. Mitja Iršič said that such actions are used to protect the untouchable political elite, “but when Odlazek’s media octopus hegemonises a large part of the media landscape with a clear abuse of the Mass Media Act, you (the Agency) keep quiet.”

Let us also remind you that a very similar thing happened with the show Who Is Lying to You?, and the former director of the magazine Demokracija (Democracy), Jože Biščak, responded to it with the following post: “This is censorship (banning or confiscation of a publication by the authorities) in the original sense of the word. It is scandalous that the Agency in question, a state body of the executive branch of power, has such a censorship role (against Nova24TV). This is ripe for a constitutional review of the law.” At the time, the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists (Slovensko združenje domoljubnih novinarjev – SZDN) also responded to the censorship: “All of us at the Association are following with great concern the developments in the media space, where not a day goes by without the conservative media being attacked. Today, we were outraged to hear that the Agency for Communication Networks and Services has ordered Nova24TV to withdraw part of the programme ‘Who Is Lying To You?’. The reason given was ‘incitement to violence and hatred against a group of persons or a member of such a group on the grounds of belief, political or other opinion’. “

A. G.

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