Opposition requests session to discuss suspension of STA financing
Ljubljana, 24 May - The opposition Left, supported by the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and the group of unaffiliated MPs, demands an emergency session of the parliamentary Commission for Public Finance Oversight to discuss the suspension of funding of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA).
The parties say that suspending the funding of the STA is a direct attack on press freedom, democracy and the constitutional right of the public to be informed. "It is an outrageous and inadmissible interference in the law-based institutional, editorial and financial autonomy of a public information service that by-passes all laws and principles of democracy."
Since the government has no arguments to support its financial exhaustion of the STA with the purpose of subjugating it, it has been using the argument of power, the parties say.
The Government Communication Office (UKOM) and its head Uroš Urbanija are violating even the government-sponsored seventh anti-Covid legislative package, which envisages financing of the STA this year in line with its 2021 business plan regardless if a contract on preforming of public service is signed or not.
"The fate of the STA has been by a thread for a while, and other media that are not pro-government are also targets of political disciplining and intimidation," the parties said, pointing to the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, the newspapers Delo, Dnevnik, Večer and the weekly Mladina, and many radio stations of special importance, including Radio Študent, which have not received the much-needed state funds.
The parties stressed that the STA had an important and irreplaceable role for independent informing of the public and was protected by law. Its existence must not be jeopardised, so the Left insists that the financing be restored.
The party proposes the government to secure institutional autonomy and editorial independence to the STA. "At the same time the government as its founder should fulfil its duty within three days and secure the legally required financing for the full and undisrupted provision of public service based on the STA's annual business plan."
The STA has been performing public service without state funding for 144 days although the financing of the agency is guaranteed by the STA act and the seventh stimulus package.