Some people in our country desperately miss the old days, when those who were not liked or who were critical of the authorities were banned from appearing in the public media, lest anyone think that we were not doing as well as the ruling regime said. Among those who still feel this way is also the 8th of March Institute (Inštitut 8. marec), whose President is Nika Kovač. Namely, the Institute is very bothered by the fact that the national media outlet, which all Slovenian households are forced to pay for, gives space to people who are undesirable to the Slovenian left – the Ljubljana councillor Aleš Primc, the initiator of the pensioners’ protests Pavel Rupar and, of course, the President of the largest opposition party, Janez Janša. Kovač now openly expects Prime Minister Golob to ensure that there will be no more room for pluralism on RTV Slovenia.
The Institute, which accused the former Prime Minister of attacking media freedom and journalists, following the example of the so-called Constitutional Arch Coalition (left-wing parties of the former opposition) at the time, is now denying the public media outlet its freedom of journalistic work. Namely, they wrote the following: “Dear Government. One year after the elections, we are still witnessing a political takeover of the national media outlet. One year after the elections, we are still watching the news with fear and witnessing fake news, statements being taken out of context and the deliberate division of the people. Dear Government. One year after the elections, the situation at RTV is getting worse. Hour-long uncritical interviews with Janša, unreflected interviews with Rupar, Primc and Možina are paving the way for a renewed authoritarianism, which we do not want in our society.”
It is clear from what they have written that the so-called “hate speech” fighters are keen to ensure a full takeover of the public service, thus depriving journalists of their autonomy over who they can invite into the studio as a guest. There is no doubt that when guests are invited from both sides of the political aisle, this ensures more balanced reporting and, in turn, allows people to form their own opinion of current political affairs. After all, Article 5 of the Radio-Television Slovenia Act also obliges public service journalists to respect the principle of truthfulness, impartiality and integrity of information in their work and to respect the principle of political balance, among other things. It seems that the 8th of March Institute simply does not understand this – or does not want to understand it.
Nika Kovač says that she is constantly being warned by friends from Hungary, Belarus, Russia, and parts of America that the loss of a public and independent media is the first step in the decline of democracy. “The loss of a public and independent media leads to stolen elections, wars and the silencing of critical voices. We desperately need a public and independent broadcaster. Otherwise, the damage will be too great. The battle for an independent Radio-Television Slovenia should be one of your priorities in the second year of your government,” she says, adding that otherwise, it will be too late. As we can see, Kovač has called on Golob to arrange the politicisation of television under the guise of depoliticisation, so that it reports in a way that suits the NGOs and the left-wing pole that these NGOs helped elect.
We can undoubtedly agree that a public and an independent RTV Slovenia is badly needed. But we certainly do not need a Belarusian-style media outlet to be a parody of the ruling clique. This means, of course, that irregularities are not highlighted. in order to silence critical voices, which in the end may indeed lead to stolen elections. As the ratings of the ruling Freedom Movement party (Gibanje Svoboda) are falling and there are more and more people who are dissatisfied with the work of the government as a whole, it is not surprising that the frontwoman of the NGOs has now spoken out. They cannot go cycling like they did during the time of the previous government, because that would mean cycling against their own people.
Urbanija: We are not Belarus!
“Oh, come on. The party dictatorship was over in 1990. But this lady would still like to decide who can and who cannot be on RTV Slovenia – in a true party fashion,” Uroš Urbanija, the director of Television Slovenija, responded critically to Kovač’s appeal, adding that Pavel Rupar and Jaša Jenull can both appear on RTV, just like Robert Golob and Janez Janša can both appear on RTV. “And, of course, all others. Including Nika. We are not Belarus,” he made it clear. And Primc, who seems to be a thorn in many people’s side for opposing the spread of LGBTQ madness among children and the construction of the C0 canal across a drinking water catchment area, has also responded. “I would love to have substantive conversations with Nika Kovač and the 8th of March Institute, but you do not dare come on the show. It is ugly and undemocratic to call on the government to censor RTVS when you are there nonstop, but you do not dare to confront the opinions and visions of others. I want to have a dialogue with you,” he told Kovač.
“An Institute of the Left party (Levica), founded by the Minister of Solidarity-Based Future, Simon Maljevac, is publicly protesting that one year after the elections, political activists from the government parties are still not in the positions of directors and editors of the “public” RTV Slovenia. The fact that most journalists are not disturbed by this is something that is only possible in Slovenia,” emphasised long-time journalist and editor Peter Jančič. One can certainly be alarmed by the so-called civil society claiming that it is problematic to have an interview with the leader of the opposition on public television. This is something that is unthinkable in non-democratic countries. You would think that civil society would want democracy. But here, it seems, things are different. When the NGOs and the street are the editor, we will be faced with a situation where it will be forbidden to interview the leader of the opposition, the leader of the protesters and right-wing opinion leaders. According to political analyst Mitja Iršič, it will be like the days when RTV used to have a direct line to the Central Committee, from where it got all of its instructions.