Združenje novinarjev in publicistov
English texts
Report on the Freedom of the Press in Slovenia for 2013 natisni

The freedom of the press in Slovenia has been infringed significantly. In 2013, there were several cases showing that the political and economic influence over the media has increased. Despite freedom of expression being protected by the Constitution, self-censorship has become a common occurrence in the Slovenian media.

The political pressure and directing of many journalists in the majority of the daily information media strengthened in 2013. Several tens of journalists were forced to resign, signing only a cooperation agreement with their media, which substantially worsened their financial situation, and more tens of journalists are destined to follow the same path in the coming months. Moreover, many journalists who got their job as freelancers but had actually been doing the work of a full-time employee all this time were laid off. The majority of media houses cut their salaries, which hit the younger journalists brutally hard, whereas the older journalists and editors were not affected as much.

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A CALL TO THE GOVERNMENT TO STOP PRESSURING THE JOURNALISTS natisni

The Association of Journalists and Commentators (ZNP) calls on the Government of Alenka Bratušek to stop pressuring the journalists and interfering with the editorial policies of individual media. Such practices have impoverished the Slovenian media space, making it even more one-sided, and interfere with the freedom of the press guaranteed by the Constitution.

Namely, on 16 December 2013, the web portal Planet Siol began publishing a column written by a lobbyist, former MP and member of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (LDS) party, Mile Šetinc, who is, according to some media, also one of the advisers at the election headquarters of the Positive Slovenia (PS) party. When this happened, the Editor-in-Chief of the portal Uroš Urbas wrote an explanation under the column, saying that Šetinc was invited to become one of their visiting writers because the Editorial Board has been the target of repeated accusations from circles close to the Government that they do not understand the endeavours, efforts and achievements of the current Government.

This shows how the Government has been trying to influence the editorial policy of the portal by appointing its own people to make sure that the portal will write in a manner that is to its liking. The latter is unacceptable and should not be practised by any Government. It is the duty of the media to control the Government and its institutions and not to understand its actions or write about it in a manner that the Government thinks they should.

It is even more unacceptable for the Government to act in such a way, as it is obvious that, by doing so, it has been exploiting its influence within the ownership of the company, under which the portal operates. The portal is run under the auspices of the company TSmedia, which is majority-owned by Telekom Slovenija, the latter being majority-owned by the State.

Besides, this is not the first case of Alenka Bratušek's Government exerting pressure on the media. Thus, the television programme Pogledi Slovenije broadcasted on TV Slovenija was cancelled this year, immediately after it revealed the fact that Bratušek was involved in the sale of Mercator. To continue, two journalists, namely Stanislav Kovač and Jaka Elikan, had to leave their jobs at the newspaper Finance for criticising the Positive Slovenia's "frozen" president Zoran Janković. After the Government was replaced, Planet Siol was also subject to the replacement of certain members of the editorial staff.

ZNP therefore calls on the Government to stop putting direct and indirect pressure on the media and has decided to inform the international institutions dealing with freedom of the press in individual countries of the current events.

Management Board of ZNP

 
Report on the Freedom of the Press in Slovenia for 2010 natisni

In the Annual Report on the Freedom of the Press in Slovenia for 2010, the Association of Journalists and Commentators (ZNP) draws attention to the increasing pressure exerted by the ruling power on the Slovenian media. The greatest problem is presented by criminal prosecutions against the journalists, which are conducted by the State Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Slovenia, ex officio, at the request of state and municipal officials. One such example is the police investigation launched by the Mayor of Ljubljana Zoran Janković. Just before the end of the year, Mayor Janković requested the police to interrogate the Editor-in-Chief of the Reporter magazine Silvester Šurla, who, in his comment, criticised the inviolability of Mayor Janković and his political involvement in some suspicious business activities, which was also covered by the media. To continue, immediately after New Year, the State Prosecutor’s Office lodged an indictment against the journalist of Delo Borut Tavčar, which was again requested by the Mayor Zoran Janković. Tavčar had to face charges, because he had made some funny statements concerning the relations between the City Administration and the holding of public companies owned by the City Municipality of Ljubljana. The Mayor of Ljubljana also requested criminal prosecution against the caricaturist Miki Muster and the Editor of Finance Uroš Urbas, but the State Prosecutor's Office turned him down. A few months earlier, the Association of Journalists and Commentators condemned criminal prosecution of the journalists from multiple newspaper companies, who had criticised the work of the Judge Mojca Kocjančič Zalar, the wife of the Minister of Justice, Aleš Zalar.

We repeatedly requested amendments to the infamous provisions of the Penal Code, which enable the state and local officials to launch criminal prosecution against the journalists who had supposedly offended them, but the Ministry of Justice rejected our request, explaining that the current regulation in the Penal Code is entirely appropriate. This regulation used to protect the rulers of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and the then system (the so called »verbal delicts«) and was later preserved in the Penal Code of the democratic Slovenian state. Moreover, in 2008 the National Assembly extended this privilege to the Mayors. According to the currently valid Penal Code, journalists and Editors-in-Chief could be imposed a fine or punished by imprisonment of up to six months for insulting a state or local official. In our opinion, the State authorises such procedures against journalists to intimidate them and to encourage self-censorship. In such a manner and with the help of repressive bodies, the state and local officials try to suppress every criticism of their work, which represents not only an attack on the freedom of the public word but also on the fundamental values of democracy.

 Also problematic is the announcement of an interrogation of journalists who had been writing for the newspapers Slovenski tednik and Ekspres, the publishing of which took place a few months before the election in 2008. The interrogation was announced by the member of the governmental party SD (Social Democrats) Melita Župevc, the President of the Commission of Inquiry, which investigates the political responsibility of public officials who might be involved in the publishing and financing of the aforementioned newspapers. In our opinion, this Commission has the legal power to investigate only public officials and not journalists. Our Association strongly objects to the idea that the journalists writing for the previously mentioned newspapers should be brought before the politicians, which will result only in the public lynching of those journalists who are not in favour of the currently ruling coalition. We believe that such interrogation also represents a political attack on the freedom of the press and a degradation of the journalist’s profession, therefore we warned the journalists not to cooperate with such Commissions.

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© 2007 Združenje novinarjev in publicistov.
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