Corporate news 30.9.2021 17:20

Opposition urges govt to comply with STA legislation

Ljubljana, 30 September - In the wake of STA director Bojan Veselinovič's resignation, the centre-left opposition has called on the government to comply with legislation governing STA funding, highlighting the role of media independence. The opposition plans to request an emergency parliamentary session to discuss the matter.

The Marjan Šarec Party (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), Left and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) would like the session to be called to urge the government to honour its legal obligations to the Slovenian Press Agency (STA).

Veselinovič resigned on Thursday, saying he refused to participate "in the trampling of journalistic autonomy" or agree to terms that were a form of arm-twisting. He also noted the STA has been providing public service without government funding for 273 days.

"We have gathered feeling great indignation and concern as yet another act has taken place that will apparently destroy the STA for sure," Maša Kociper, the head of the SAB deputy group, said today.

She highlighted that many among the opposition members saw Veselinovič as a symbol of the fight against unreasonable, unlawful and unconstitutional government attempts to wield influence over the work of the STA.

The STA saga is an unacceptable and blatant attack on media freedom, said LMŠ deputy group head Brane Golubović.

Matej Tašner Vatovec of the Left said today's developments opened the doors to the realisation of Prime Minister Janez Janša's agenda for media, which, he said, would culminate in taking over all media institutions in the country that could be controlled by the government.

The opposition parties pointed out that the seventh coronavirus relief package, passed in late December, sets down the STA funding for 2021 regardless of whether a public service agreement is signed or not.

They also invoked the recent decision by the Supreme Court, which ruled that even without the contract there is legal basis for providing the funding.

By flouting the law the government is sending a message to the public that rules can be broken in Slovenia, said Golubović.

The LMŠ and Left believe that one way out of the situation is to have an early election as soon as possible.

Janja Sluga, the head of the deputy group of unaffiliated MPs, meanwhile said that the government had reached its goal by draining the STA and ignoring legal obligations.