A CALL TO THE GOVERNMENT TO STOP PRESSURING THE JOURNALISTS natisni

The Association of Journalists and Commentators (ZNP) calls on the Government of Alenka Bratušek to stop pressuring the journalists and interfering with the editorial policies of individual media. Such practices have impoverished the Slovenian media space, making it even more one-sided, and interfere with the freedom of the press guaranteed by the Constitution.

Namely, on 16 December 2013, the web portal Planet Siol began publishing a column written by a lobbyist, former MP and member of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (LDS) party, Mile Šetinc, who is, according to some media, also one of the advisers at the election headquarters of the Positive Slovenia (PS) party. When this happened, the Editor-in-Chief of the portal Uroš Urbas wrote an explanation under the column, saying that Šetinc was invited to become one of their visiting writers because the Editorial Board has been the target of repeated accusations from circles close to the Government that they do not understand the endeavours, efforts and achievements of the current Government.

This shows how the Government has been trying to influence the editorial policy of the portal by appointing its own people to make sure that the portal will write in a manner that is to its liking. The latter is unacceptable and should not be practised by any Government. It is the duty of the media to control the Government and its institutions and not to understand its actions or write about it in a manner that the Government thinks they should.

It is even more unacceptable for the Government to act in such a way, as it is obvious that, by doing so, it has been exploiting its influence within the ownership of the company, under which the portal operates. The portal is run under the auspices of the company TSmedia, which is majority-owned by Telekom Slovenija, the latter being majority-owned by the State.

Besides, this is not the first case of Alenka Bratušek's Government exerting pressure on the media. Thus, the television programme Pogledi Slovenije broadcasted on TV Slovenija was cancelled this year, immediately after it revealed the fact that Bratušek was involved in the sale of Mercator. To continue, two journalists, namely Stanislav Kovač and Jaka Elikan, had to leave their jobs at the newspaper Finance for criticising the Positive Slovenia's "frozen" president Zoran Janković. After the Government was replaced, Planet Siol was also subject to the replacement of certain members of the editorial staff.

ZNP therefore calls on the Government to stop putting direct and indirect pressure on the media and has decided to inform the international institutions dealing with freedom of the press in individual countries of the current events.

Management Board of ZNP