At a recent session, the Constitutional Court was once again discussing the petition for a constitutional review of the Radio-Television Slovenia Act with a proposal for a temporary suspension, which has been submitted by several members of the management team of the institution, with the first signatory being the chairman of the Programme Council, Peter Gregorčič. It is not yet known whether the court’s decision will be announced today. Andrej Grah Whatmough, the Acting Director-General of the national media outlet Radio-Television Slovenia, called a press conference on Thursday, which was prompted by the recently adopted annual report and accounts of the public service institution for the previous year. “I am very pleased to be able to tell you that for the first time since 2015, the result is positive, amounting to 96 thousand euros,” he said, recalling that the institution had been operating at a significant loss in recent years, and that, in contrast, it has been operating with record revenues in the last two years.
The petitioners are challenging the provisions under which the terms of office of the members of the Programme and Supervisory Boards, the Director-General and the directors of television and radio ended with the new amendment’s entry into force, which happened in December last year. This, they point out, was done without ascertaining the conditions otherwise required for the termination of these mandates. According to the petitioners, this violates both the established case law of the Constitutional Court and the case law of the European Union’s Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. They believe that the implementation of the amendment and the suspension of the mandates will lead to irreversible consequences and have therefore proposed that the discussion on the legality of the amendment be given absolute priority and that it should be followed by a suspension of the said amendment. According to some indications, the Constitutional Court has been divided over the past weeks on the suspension of the implementation of the Radio-Television Slovenia Act, writes the media outlet N1. Four judges are said to be in favour of the suspension, four are said to be against it, and judge Rok Čeferin has been excluded from the case.
On the other hand, former Constitutional Court judge Ciril Ribičič believes that the suspension of the amendment to the Radio-Television Slovenia Act would have serious and irreversible consequences. The government has also requested the Constitutional Court to call the Television Slovenia journalists Igor E. Bergant and Ksenia Horvat to a hearing. “The government ranks are in a state of panic. Namely, the information has been leaked that the Constitutional Court might halt the implementation of the Radio-Television Slovenia Act in the upcoming session. In order to prevent this, the government has proposed to the Constitutional Court a public discussion on the constitutional review of the act and the hearing of witnesses and an expert: Ksenija Horvat, Igor E. Bergant, Robert Pajk and Igor Vobič,” the N1 media outlet wrote, among other things. According to the government, the proposed witnesses would be able to provide a comprehensive description of the events that led to the critical situation at RTV Slovenia and the adverse consequences for RTV Slovenia if the implementation of the amendment to the Radio-Television Slovenia Act is delayed, the Ministry of Culture wrote. A public discussion had been proposed earlier by the petitioners.
“A temporary suspension, which would prolong such a situation until the final decision of the Constitutional Court judges, would have serious and irreparable consequences, as RTV Slovenia is losing its reputation on a daily basis, the viewership of its programmes is decreasing, and at the same time the constitutional idea of RTVS as an instrument in the hands of civil society is melting in the eyes of the public like a snowman in the current warm the weather,” Ribičič wrote in the Dnevnik newspaper at the beginning of January, adding that the urgent procedure which was used for the adoption of the act was necessary because of “the abuse of procedural rights by the new opposition, which, by tabling more than thirty laws and requests for a referendum, has tried and succeeded in delaying the depoliticisation of RTVS, or the re-establishment of RTVS as a public institution that political parties cannot subordinate to themselves as much as possible.” “Therefore, if we weigh the hard-to-repair consequences suffered by officials against human rights, especially the right to information, the entitlements and privileges of officials should fly right off the scale,” concluded the former chairman of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Slovenia and long-time politician.
Andrej Grah Whatmough, Acting Director-General of RTVS, has called a press conference for Thursday, which was triggered by the recent adoption of the annual report and accounts of the public institution for the previous year. “I am very pleased to be able to tell you that for the first time since 2015, the result is positive, amounting to 96 thousand euros,” Grah Whatmough said, also explaining how it was achieved that they finally made a positive zero. He recalled that the institute had been operating at a big loss in recent years, with a loss of almost five million two years ago and explained that the institute had record operating income for the last two years. He said that the reduction of labour costs had also had a major impact on the business. “If we had any help from the state, we could be talking about a concrete profit instead of a positive zero,” he said, adding that the money could be spent on programmes, which is also the public mission of RTV Slovenia.
The collective of RTV employees also called a press conference to discuss the current developments in the public institution. Helena Milinković stressed that the strike at RTV continues and that negotiations with the management on the resolution of the strike demands have stalled due to the employer’s unresponsiveness. “In light of what is happening, we will convene a strike committee and propose to it that the strike be escalated,” she said, according to the MMC web portal, complaining, among other things, that the Acting Director of the Television, Uroš Urbanija, who, according to her behaves like a director in the shadow, had introduced attendance checks at morning meetings, and last week, the journalists were reportedly informed that their work would be restructured, “regardless of the fact that we are civil servants, regardless of the fact that the rules for employee evaluation are supposed to be the same for all RTV employees,” she said.