Ex-Yugoslav ethnic communities protest TV Slovenija's programme cuts

Ljubljana, 24 March - Representatives of ethnic communities in Slovenia that hail from former Yugoslav countries have spoken out against the public broadcaster's decision to terminate cooperation with freelance journalists in its TV show dedicated to these communities. Such cuts are unacceptable as they result in reduced diversity, they warned.

Saša Banjanac Lubej, editor and presenter of the show NaGlas!, has announced that TV Slovenija acting director Uroš Urbanija decided to terminate contracts with the journalists of the only show the public broadcaster produces for members of Albanian, Bosnian, Montenegrin, Croatian, Macedonian and Serbian communities.

The show, which is broadcast in the languages of these communities, airs every second Saturday as it alternates with a show for the Roma community.

Urbanija's decision means the cancellation of NaGlas! in its current format, which has had an eight-year run, even though the show is included in the public broadcaster's programme plan for this year, Banjanac Lubej said.

Urbanija made the decision without any heads-up in February, she said, adding that the freelance colleagues whose contracts were not renewed are all women whose mother tongue is one of the languages featured in the show. Most have been making contributions to the show since the very start in 2015, she said.

In 2011, parliament adopted a resolution to recognise the existence of the ethnic communities in Slovenia and call on the government and other institutions to support the parliamentary parties' efforts to preserve their languages, cultures and identities, Banjanac Lubej said.

Moreover, under the act on RTV Slovenija, the public broadcaster is obliged to support efforts to spread awareness about ethnic communities in Slovenia, she said, and Slovenia as a whole has also committed itself to supporting the preservation of the cultures and languages of these communities in line with the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

She now intends to produce the content for the show herself and sees Urbanija's decision as an opportunity to regulate the show's systemic co-financing following the example of other programmes for minorities and in accordance with the Council of Europe recommendations.

The show has high ratings and has been lauded both by its target audience and experts, she added.

Representatives of the ethnic communities in Slovenia find Urbanija's decision unacceptable since the programme cuts will leave even fewer opportunities to show the diversity of their languages and cultures.

Instead of less content, their umbrella organisation, ZKDS, would like to see more content dedicated to the communities' activities. 20 minutes every fortnight is not enough to cover all the events organised by more than 100 associations, they said, joined by other organisations' calls for more dedicated funds and content.

Also responding, the NGO Peace Institute called on the government and Culture Ministry to regulate the issue of funding for such TV Slovenija shows as soon as possible, and to "prevent such unprofessional, arbitrary and vindictive interference by management in programmes dedicated to minority communities".

© STA, 2023