STA without public service payment for 200 days
Ljubljana, 19 July - Today marks the 200th day since the Slovenian government and the Government Communications Office (UKOM) suspended public financing of the STA. It is with pride that the agency looks back at its 30-year history and on this summer - for we have taken a STAnd and survived.
We would not have made it without the help of donors and faithful subscribers who appreciate the professional job our team of journalists is doing, despite having been cast for the second time in six months into uncertainty about whether they will receive pay or not.
Those who flaunt the statutory public service requirement, having been making empty promises about financing and commitments, and attaching an endless stream of new conditions, are now saying that the key to the solution is the signing of a public service agreement that is billed as a be-all and end-all. They want to determine what the STA's public service mission is and end the practice of "double billing" of content. In reality, the STA does not double bill. This claim coming from people who have refused to release public financing since January despite statutory obligations is the apex of pretence.
Despite being under the watchful eye of the domestic and international public, they are destroying an agency that is among the leaders in Slovenia when it comes to innovation and the development of new products, a credible and sought-after partner in international projects with a high-quality news wire.
We have been waiting for the annual public service agreement, which is the subject of ongoing talks, since last December. Alas, the wording of the agreement as proposed by UKOM is unacceptable. It would turn the STA into a government formation for the mass production of news and photographs. UKOM's conduct is tantamount to extortion of a financially exhausted STA that contravenes multiple laws.
We are at a point not very far from having to do wedding photography, a service the UKOM director thinks could save the agency. But those with at least a little knowledge of agency journalism know this is the road to perdition. The STA will do everything it can to avoid this, and it will do so in alliance with the public.
STA editorial board