EFJ Denounces “Dangerous” Draft Media Law As Slovenia Steps Away from Public Service Values

The European Federation of Journalists today protested to the Slovenian government over a new and restrictive law on public broadcasting that it is trying to impose without political or public debate.

The EFJ says the draft law prepared by the Ministry of Culture, which would replace an existing law that had been considered a model for other post-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe to follow, contains “vague and dangerous” language that could compromise editorial independence. 

The proposal allows the Director General, a political appointment, more authority over senior editorial jobs, and it opens the door to more political influence by increasing the power of the National Assembly in appointments to the Programming Council and the Supervisory Council.

“We fear that more political influence and less space for civil society in the supervision of the public broadcaster will have the inevitable effect of compromising editorial independence,” said Arne König, Chairman of the European Federation of Journalists. “These are vague and dangerous proposals made worse by the fact that the process is being rushed through.” 

The changes were published on 1 April without any consultation of professional organizations or civil society groups, and are supposed to be adopted by the Government within days. 

“We fear that this backward step for media freedom is dangerous and unacceptable in a country that entered the European Union last year and which is considered as one of the few new member states where transition from state broadcasting to public broadcasting was likely to succeed,” said König.

The EFJ is leading a campaign for the defence of public broadcasting throughout Europe. In January, the Federation launched its Manifesto for Public Service Values in 2005. This topic is a major concern for journalists and media professionals in an enlarged Europe. 

“Independent and accountable media are truly threatened in Europe, both by political pressure and by commercial interests. We are shocked that Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša still considers the public broadcaster as a state broadcaster to be used as a voicebox for government,” said König. “This attitude has no place in a modern democracy and this draft law should be withdrawn in favour of open and public debate about the future of broadcasting.”