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The Council Of Europe Has Been Informed Of The Political Subjugation Of Public Broadcaster RTV

Member of the European Parliament, Dr Milan Zver, President of the Association of Journalists and Publicists, Dr Matevž Tomšič, and President of the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists, Jože Biščak, have decided to inform the Council of Europe and the journalists’ associations of the Council of Europe’s online platform for the promotion of the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists about the illegal actions and intimidation that are being carried out against some journalists of the national media outlet Radio-Television Slovenia (RTVS) by the new RTV management, which was appointed on the basis of the amended Radio-Television Slovenia Act, the amendments to which were adopted by the coalition of the current Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Robert Golob.

In the introduction to the public letter, the signatories pointed out that the current management of the national media outlet RTV has been engaging in bullying, pogrom, mobbing and intimidation (including by using illegal means) since the beginning of its mandate. ” Following the replacement of all key directors and editors appointed by the government of Robert Golob, the persecution extended to individual hosts and journalists, particularly in the news program of the 1st channel of TV Slovenia.”

The television hosts, who, according to the authors of the letter, have unquestionable journalistic competence, were removed from the positions of television hosts of their respective programmes on the pretext that the new acting Editor-in-Chief, Polona Fijavž, was creating her own team, and covert bullying and underground demonisation began in the newsroom. “This occurred in September 2023, marking a genuine personnel stampede, where individuals who did not align with the extreme left and the current authorities, or did not protest vehemently during the past right-wing government, were removed from their positions on public television.” They recalled that in the name of depoliticisation, which is, in fact, complete politicisation, the following were removed: the Director-General of RTV, the Director of TV Slovenia, the Editor-in-Chief of the news programme, the Editor of internal politics, the Editor of foreign politics, the Editor of the daily news programme, the Editor of the web portal, and the presenters of the daily news programmes were all removed. They also pointed out that the matter even went so far that one of the dismissed presenters had to seek urgent medical help because of all the events and pressures. “Another host, who was subsequently replaced, also sought medical help a month before being removed. Additionally, programs critical of the current government were discontinued.”

“The personnel upheaval persisted with the public support and involvement of the Prime Minister,” the authors were critical and recalled that Prime Minister Robert Golob, on the news programme Odmevi (Echoes) on the 25th of October 2023, said to the presenter Tanja Starič: “We have also made a commitment, all of us together, to purge RTV Slovenia of Janšaism, and I know that you know exactly what that means.” (Prime Minister Robert Golob on the show Odmevi, the 25th of October 2023, transcript in Slovenian available here:

According to the authors of the letter, the management of RTV Slovenia issued orders to the employees of the Panorama programme, which was not included in the Programme and Production Plan for 2024, to be sent home and work remotely from the 3rd to the 31st of January 2024 and even banned them from entering the building. “It should be noted that the initially issued orders to the employees were unlawful, leading to the preparation of new ones. These employees, including the responsible Editor, were placed on leave to work from home. It is publicly known that RTV Slovenia continues to hire new personnel, and it is evident that only “Panorama” journalists were placed on leave, despite the discontinuation of other shows with the new year,” they pointed out, adding that the administration further barred the Editor-in-Chief and the Panorama journalists from entering the RTV Slovenia building. At the same time, Marko Milenković, a journalist at TV Slovenija, wrote on the X social network: “I worked at RTV for 1.5 years. In addition to the Economy section on Panorama, I had to do so many things that the HR department warned me not to do so much… With the New Year, suddenly there is no more work for me; I was sent on leave to work at home. Today I can’t even go to my workplace to get my things.”

As they also pointed out, the management of the RTVS public institute and the management of the institute are also using various manoeuvres to target foreign correspondents in an extremely unscrupulous manner, and, as can be seen from the public announcements of those involved, are terminating already concluded work contracts without justification. Nina Kojima, RTVS’s London correspondent, also responded to the termination of her contract on the X network, writing: “No money at RTV? Ksenija Horvat, my colleagues from RTV told me in the last few hours that your partner Janez Lombergar, besides receiving a pension, also receives a substantial fee, as he apparently actively helps you with purges? You won’t answer my email; maybe you’ll answer here?”

“We believe that all the mentioned actions seriously violate media freedom and media pluralism in the Slovenian space. The personnel purges at the public broadcaster RTV Slovenia, funded by all taxpayers, are a consequence of the revengeful actions of the new management against journalists who arrived or advanced during the previous administration,” the authors of the letter critically pointed out, adding that the journalists and editors in question cannot be accused of poor performance or incompetence, as they include individuals with long-standing journalistic and professional careers, as well as experts in the Slovenian media landscape.

To conclude the letter, the authors wrote the following:

“Respected members of the Council of Europe,

we are convinced that the European Council (European journalists’ associations) should respond to the events in Slovenia and demand answers from the Slovenian

authorities. We urge you to support journalists and editors who are publicly harassed and bullied at RTV Slovenia, some to the extent of seeking medical help. It is crucial to protect journalists and editors in carrying out their profession without political pressure, threats, and illegal actions by their employer. Slovenia is facing serious challenges regarding the erosion of media freedom and democracy.

Respecting journalists’ freedom is crucial for the proper functioning of a modern democratic society. Public broadcasting is particularly significant as a primary platform for citizens to acquire information and shape their opinions. In a democracy, it is vital for journalists to operate independently, free from political interference, as this is the only way to ensure objective reporting and represent diverse perspectives within society. Safeguarding the independence of journalists in public broadcasting is essential to prevent political influence on media content, guaranteeing that citizens receive high-quality, balanced, and diverse information. Therefore, it is imperative to prevent the dismissal of journalists for political reasons, as this is the sole means of preserving the integrity of the journalistic profession and reinforcing the foundations of a free and open society.

With respect,

Dr Milan Zver, Member of the European Parliament

Dr Matevž Tomšič, President of the Association of Journalists and Publicists

Jože Biščak, President of the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists”

Ž. N.

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