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The general public needs to get to know the Slovenian media scene – it is time for an independent investigation!

We do not need hostility and “war” in Slovenia. What we need is a responsible government, a constructive opposition and a plural and fair media landscape. Not one where the media from the right is described as the “factory of evil” and those from the opposite side are described, on a daily basis, as credible, and their articles are summarised and promoted in the mainstream media,” said Igor Pirkovič, a member of the board of the Association of Journalists and Publicists (Združenje novinarjev in publicistov – referred to as ZPN). President of the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists, Jože Biščak, emphasised that there is no media outlet in Slovenia where the ownership is more transparent, than that of Demokracija and Nova24TV. 

After last Monday’s failed vote of no confidence, which was filed by the Constitutional Arch Coalition, an article was published “completely coincidentally”  in the Brussels online media outlet  Politico on the very next day, accusing the Prime Minister Janez Janša of intimidating and persecuting the media outlets he does not like. In light of their “transparent” journalistic professionalism, it is obviously not appropriate for them to publish the response of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, which has also been published on the website of the government. Our mainstream media have been very clear opponents of the current government since the first day it took office, and now they are not even trying to hide their political affiliation anymore – and act accordingly. However, their reporting is clearly not limited only to our country anymore. We could say that their voice can reach far and wide – as long as this is in the best interest of the left-wing opposition, of course.

And slandering of the current government definitely is in their best interest. The article by Lili Bayer was written on the basis of statements of more than ten journalistic sources from Slovenia, who wished to remain anonymous. According to the allegations, attacks on the media are constantly happening, and the government wants to change the media legislation in order to subordinate the now “independent” Slovenian media. The Slovenian Prime Minister allegedly created an atmosphere of fear with his attacks on the journalists, and the anonymous journalistic sources also told the author of the article that self-censorship is a common practice due to the constant pressure. Truth be told, if we take a look at any of the mainstream media, it quickly becomes clear that there is no self-censorship happening there.

They do not know the Slovenian reality, so they buy into the stories of the biased sources
“When it comes to the reporting on the foreign media writing about Slovenia, matters are transferred very one-sidedly,” said Igor Pirkovič, a member of the board of the Association of Journalists and Publicists (ZPN), adding that Slovenia and its representatives are written about in different ways – sometimes the authors are critical, other times, they are full of praise. “Have you noticed any of the mainstream media outlets summarising the coverage of at least one of the many European media outlets that report on Slovenian political representatives in superlatives?” he asked, and continued: “Of course not, because a unilateral selection is happening.” When the situation is reversed, the transfer from foreign to Slovenian media is a logical consequence. Whether the records come from a reputable or obscure foreign media outlet, this is exploited for the internal political showdown with the current government. It is not the mission of the media to defend any government, but they are bound by the professional principles of journalistic ethics.

Pirkovič emphasised that in the case of the Brussels’ Politico reporting, this was obviously a fictitious article, which was written in agreement with someone from Slovenia. “Europe does not know the Slovenian reality, and therefore, it partly falls prey to these fabrications,” he pointed out, noting that a cursory glance at the web-based media outlet Politico gives the impression that they mostly deal with Donald Trump, Viktor Orban and Janez Janša. A few clicks and things start to make sense. Can you imagine the mainstream media highlighting the critical thinking published in the esteemed daily The Guardian, in which Barry Glendenning critically reported on Aleksander Čeferin and UEFA’s reckless decisions to allow spectators in the matches? “No, you will not see anything like that because Aleksander Čeferin is not someone that needs to be brought down. All in all, it is a bit ridiculous and at times even hysterical to try to beat the regular elections and win the media war because the vote of no confidence did not work out for them,” the member of the ZPN board explained.

An independent investigation of the Slovenian media landscape should be conducted
Jože Biščak
, President of the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists, wrote: “Even though I believe that the only “regulation” that applies to the media should be enough – I am referring to Article 39 of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia, which states that freedom of expression of thought, freedom of speech and public appearance, freedom of the press, and other forms of public communication and expression shall be guaranteed and that everyone may freely collect, receive, and  disseminate information and opinions, I still believe that an independent investigation of the Slovenian media landscape should be conducted.” He also explained that he is not referring to the ideological orientation of the media but rather the monopolies and the cartel agreements. He noted that one such media conglomerate is owned by Martin Odlazek – and it is the biggest one in the country.

“Let’s see who is interconnected in the ownership and management of several companies, once and for all.  And above all, what rights does the state have to a part of Odlazek’s (and his “colleagues”) assets, which were transferred to the Bank Assets Management Company,” Biščak suggested, adding that it is otherwise logical that the Bank Assets Management Company bought a company, known for its many media outlets and the intertwined ownership, as it was a secured creditor, and the property was thus saved from bankruptcy. “But as far as I know, Odlazek and his comrades still retained most of their voting rights when it comes to the property. If this is true, someone at the Bank Assets Management Company should be held responsible for it,” he pointed out. However, there are also many other cases that call for an investigation: the monopolies and cartel arrangements in the field of advertising, a monopoly in the field of radio, distribution and printed media, and other things. Biščak is certain that a detailed investigation of everything would almost certainly lead to the conclusion that the media are in the hands of a handful of tycoons who got them for a handful of euros. “But no, Europe is now much more interested in Demokracija and Nova24TV and their ownership. I assure you that there is no media outlet with more transparent ownership and without any hidden owners in Slovenia,” the President of the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists emphasised.

The general public needs to get to know the Slovenian media scene
Since the beginning of the current government’s term, the strategy of the left-wing working from the background has been to turn various international institutions against the Slovenian government, and a few months before the presidency of the EU Council, this intention is only intensifying. Most of the people abroad do not know anything about the Slovenian media situation, nor do they know much about ownership relations and media financing. They also cannot imagine that our media scene is filled with the remnants of the previous regime, which still shape a notable part of the public opinion produced by the seemingly impartial media. And this is another reason why an independent investigation of the Slovenian media landscape should be carried out in order to finally show the general public what the real situation is like. Namely, the media which are selling a certain ideology under the guise of neutrality and are trying to convince their audience of their objectivity and credible presentation of the truth at the same time, represent the greatest danger. It may even be true that media freedom is being threatened in Slovenia – but the threat is coming from the opposite end of the spectrum, as opposed to what is now trying to be passed off as the truth – also by writing abroad.

Sara Bertoncelj

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