SLOVENIA, SLOVENIA, 12/05/2005, 11:50
Office of the President of the Republic
Office of the Prime Minister
SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, and its affiliate, the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), are writing to you to highlight a number of problems with the draft Act on Radio Television Slovenia (RTV Slovenia).
Before examining some of the provisions, IPI would ask the Slovenian government whether there is a real need to introduce an amended public service broadcasting law. In previous times, the Slovenian law was considered to be one of the most advanced within the new EU member countries and it appears to IPI that amendments might harm this reputation.
IPI believes that the draft law in its present form does not do everything possible to uphold the independence and autonomy of the public service broadcaster and, quite to the contrary, it leaves the organisation vulnerable to political influence and pressure.
For example, concerning the composition of the Programming Council of RTV Slovenia (PCRS), in Article 17 (5), 16 members are to be appointed by the National Assembly based on suggestions "by the viewers and listeners of RTV broadcasts, universities, associations of societies or their organisations. . ."
Using this format, IPI is worried that the relationship between civil society organisations and the National Assembly merely pays lip service to the idea of negotiation and consultation but, in truth, gives the organisations little or no say in the final decision as to who should be a member of the PCRS. To avoid this problem, IPI would prefer to see either an independent board of civil society organisations choosing their own representatives or certain nominated organisations forwarding their own choices.
IPI also notes that the Roma community is not specifically mentioned. On the question of the PCRS, IPI would like to see the Roma community represented in this body. This is important because of the government's commitment to the Slovenian Constitution and the Public Media Act.
Another important point is the question of the third channel that is to be used for transmitting parliamentary and other National Assembly and National Council activities. Given the special nature of this channel, IPI believes that funding should come not from the budget of the public service broadcaster, but from a special source of funding.
After all, the requirement to produce such programming is an additional burden on the broadcaster that might affect its work in other valuable areas and there is a need for heavy technical investment in programme distribution since, at present, it is obviously not possible to broadcast a third channel across the entire country.
In view of the above, IPI and SEEMO would ask that the Slovenian government take the draft law and enter into a rolling discussion with all interested parties as a means of making certain that the draft law meets the needs of the broadest possible spectrum of Slovenian society.
Finally, public service broadcasting operates both for and on behalf of the Slovenian public and a strong statement to this effect would certainly remove some of IPI's concerns about the possible deficiencies related to the question of the broadcaster's independence from political influences.
We thank you for your attention.
Johann P. Fritz
SEEMO Secretary General