Statement of the Annual Meeting on the Situation in Slovenia

The European Federation of Journalists Annual Meeting gathering in Bled, Slovenia, April 7-9, 2006 is deeply concerned with the recent intrusions of politics into the Slovenian media sphere, as well as by the ongoing lowering of social standards for journalists.

In the past year, the Slovenian government has drastically increased pressures on the media and journalists and its possibilities to affect editorial decisions.

With the new law on public radio and television that was put into force in November 2005, the government increased its influence on public service.

At the beginning of 2006 the government also started discussing the draft of new media law, which introduces a more detailed right to correction, transforming this into a de facto right to exclusive access to editorial content.

Also worrying is the pressure on media owners who are expected to make changes in editorial structures for them to fit the interests of powers that be. All along, the government continues attacks on the entire journalistic community.

Journalists are seen by the government as principal political opponents. Political pressures on editorial autonomy through state ownership or through changes in supervisory boards in the media are transmitted to the uncertainty and hard distress, worsened by the fact that social dialogue has nearly been brought to a standstill.

Particularly worrying is the reluctance of the private media owners to settle the position of the ever growing number of freelance journalists.

As in a number of other countries, the publishers take the advantage of the outdated legal frameworks that do not provide solid ground for the collective regulation of minimum standards for all working journalists, including those that currently do not fall within the scope of labour legislation.

Collective bargaining should not be hampered by the absence of rules governing the procedure to be used or by the inadequacy or inappropriateness of such rules.

The EFJ Annual Meeting calls upon all media owners in Slovenia to respect the international principles of responsible social dialogue and adopt basic standards for all working journalists, regardless of their employment status.

The Annual Meeting calls upon Slovenian authorities, media owners, journalists and the general public to realize that the diminishing of journalists’ autonomy and media freedom brings about the diminishing of the basic standards and principles of democracy.