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RTV Slovenija staff protest against pressure, demand full editorial autonomy

Ljubljana, 7 March - Journalists at RTV Slovenija staged a news conference in front of the public broadcaster on Monday to demand full editorial independence and protest against deteriorating working conditions, mobbing and political pressure. TV Slovenija journalists also oppose Jadranka Rebernik's appointment as editor-in-chief of TV news programmes.

Ljubljana
RTV Slovenija journalists demand full editorial autonomy and protest against pressure, with TV Slovenija journalist Saša Kranjc presenting some of their views.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Ljubljana
RTV Slovenija journalists demand full editorial autonomy and protest against pressure, with TV Slovenija journalist Igor E. Bergant presenting some of their views.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Ljubljana
RTV Slovenija journalists demand full editorial autonomy and protest against pressure, with Erika Žnidaršič, host of the Tarča current affairs show, presenting some of their views.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Ljubljana
RTV Slovenija journalists demand full editorial autonomy and protest against pressure, with TV Slovenija journalist Igor E. Bergant presenting some of their views.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Ljubljana
RTV Slovenija journalists demand full editorial autonomy and protest against pressure, with TV Slovenija journalist Saša Kranjc presenting some of their views.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Ljubljana
RTV Slovenija journalists demand full editorial autonomy and protest against pressure, with Marcel Štefančič, a host of Studio CIty show, presenting some of their views.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Ljubljana
RTV Slovenija journalists demand full editorial autonomy and protest against pressure, with Radio Slovenija journalist Tatjana Pirc presenting some of their views.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

TV journalist Saša Krajnc said they expect changes to news programmes to be decided on solely by RTV Slovenija, while the decisions must not be made at the initiative of political parties or powerful individuals, nor to their benefit.

He said TV Slovenija One programmes are increasingly impoverished, scheduled shows are often not aired at the set times, while decisions to broadcast foreign shows or rallies did not come as a surprise only to the general public but also to RTV Slovenija staff.

This is after TV Slovenija has broadcast two BBC shows on Ukraine since Russia invaded this country as well as one of the rallies in support of Ukraine, the one which featured senior government officials, including Prime Minister Janez Janša, as key-note speakers.

Some of the news programmes that should have been launched on TV Slovenija Two after the Beijing Olympics as part of the controversial changes to the public broadcaster's 2022 production plan have been yet again postponed, Kranjc said.

It was these changes to the production plan that made the previous editor-in-chief of TV news programmes Manica Janežič Ambrožič resign in mid-October.

The staff also urged the programming council - the new line-up had its maiden session in mid-February - to do its job in an independent and unbiased manner.

They expect political parties to refrain from attempts to interfere in the work of RTV Slovenija, saying the broadcaster is in the service of the public not politics.

Tatjana Pirc from Radio Slovenija pointed to the unwarranted and unprofessional criticism and attacks the Government Communication Office (UKOM) has been making in its recent reports in which it scrutinises RTV Slovenija reporting.

The journalists believe the RTV Slovenija leadership should react in such cases to protect the staff and prevent attempts to undermine the public broadcaster.

Igor E. Bergant, a journalist at TV news programmes, said RTV Slovenija director general Andrej Grah Whatmough appointed Rebernik editor-in-chief for a full term on Friday even if the staff overwhelmingly supported her rival Mitja Prek.

If Prek agrees, they will ask the programming council to take a position on his candidacy to eventually replace Rebernik, said Bergant, adding this is possible under the RTV Slovenija act.

The Slovenian Journalist Association (DNS) expressed support for the staff's demands and labelled Rebernik's appointment unlawful, saying it is the latest in the series of the director general's controversial moves which calls for his dismissal.

The DNS argues that Whatmough did not act in line with the law which gives the staff the right to put forward their candidate if the one put forward by the TV Slovenija director does not enjoy the staff's trust. In such a case, the programming council must take a stance on the candidate.

TV Slovenija acting director Valentin Areh had put forward both Rebernik (who received some 20% support) and Prek (around 80%), but Grah Whatmough appointed Rebernik. She took over as acting editor-in-chief in December, and did not oppose the 2022 production plan, although she did also not support it.

The DNS believes the appointment procedure should be repeated and the programming council and supervisory board should start a procedure to dismiss the director general since he pushed RTV Slovenija into operating lawfully.

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