Corporate news 30.9.2021 9:10

Statement by the representatives of STA staff

Ljubljana, 30 September - Representatives of staff at the STA regret that the negotiations between the STA management and the Government Communications Office (UKOM) have not resulted in an agreement that would provide the funding of the STA public service based on the annual business plan and at the same time secure the institutional autonomy and editorial independence of the agency in line with the Act on the STA.

Ljubljana
The logo of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA).
Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA
File photo

Statement by the representatives of STA staff

Representatives of staff at the STA regret that the negotiations between the STA management and the Government Communications Office (UKOM) have not resulted in an agreement that would provide the funding of the STA public service based on the annual business plan and at the same time secure the institutional autonomy and editorial independence of the agency in line with the Act on the STA.

The draft agreement as proposed by UKOM, and the course of the negotiations, have made it clear that both institutional autonomy and editorial independence would be at risk if the STA was to sign the agreement. This would have called into question the performance of the STA public service as defined by the Act on the STA - the provision of comprehensive, accurate and objective information about events in Slovenia and the world for the Slovenian public.

The UKOM draft contains conditions that are unacceptable for reporting work and fail to secure the STA's institutional and hence financial autonomy. The amount of public service financing would be the sole discretion of the UKOM director, and new limitations would result in a significant reduction in commercial revenue.

The STA staff expect that the government fully comply with the Act on the STA and the 7th anti-corona law, which clearly stipulates in Article 66 that the Government must secure funding for the performance of public service for 2021 in accordance with the STA business plan for 2021, "notwithstanding whether an agreement has been signed with the shareholder".

This position has recently been upheld by the Supreme Court, and indeed it is even contained in the latest government decree on the STA public service, which states in Article 7 that "if an annual agreement for 2021 is not signed, the public service rendered is paid" in accordance with the 7th anti-corona law. Notice the phrasing "is paid", which means regular payment, not payment "at some unspecified point in the future". We regret the fact that the Government is in breach of a decree it adopted itself, even as we are convinced that the decree itself is in violation of the Act on the STA, which is the subject of a dispute currently before the Administrative Court.

Judging by the management's memos to staff, the situation is no longer just serious, we are at the cusp of financial collapse. The staff at the STA expect that those responsible will immediately resolve the situation in full compliance with the law while preserving the agency's institutional autonomy and editorial independence. We will continue to forcefully resist any attempts to exert pressure on our reporting work and any damaging decisions that would further undermine the agency, and we will continue to inform the domestic and foreign public thereof.

Ljubljana, 30 September 2021

STA Works Council
STA Editorial Staff Representation
STA Editorial Board
STA Trade Union of Journalists