Statement of the ZNP about political pressures on Slovenian journalists and the media natisni

We are writing to you from the Association of Journalists and Commentators (ZNP), one of the largest journalist organizations in Slovenia. We would like to bring to your attention one of the greatest political pressures on Slovenian journalists and the media in the past few years. On 23 November 2018, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec published a call on the government’s website, where he discouraged businesses that are partially or majority-owned by the state to cease all advertising in the media that are allegedly spreading hate speech.

The Association of Journalists and Commentators estimates that we are dealing with an attempt to suppress the media who are voicing their criticism against the government. It is a known fact that representatives of government political parties and the Left, which acts as an extra government party, have been accusing the media of spreading hate speech, whereby the definition of hate speech is largely up to their random and subjective judgement. Quite frequently, they accuse the media of spreading hate speech on account of the media being critical in their writings on illegal migrations and the government policies on the matter.
The Association of Journalists and Commentators believes that the definition of hate speech should be left in the hands of courts and enforcement authorities. It can never be a matter decided upon by business administrations, called to do so by the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister’s call is also controversial because it can be viewed as an attempt to politically influence the business undertakings of various companies. State businesses have their own administrations that should choose their marketing freely, at their own discretion, and with regard to their economic interests.

Thus, we have requested the Prime Minister to revoke his controversial call or remove it from the government’s website, which he has failed to do to this day. He has not done so, even though Slovenia vowed to respect the freedom and independence of the press as it joined the European Union.

The Prime Minister’s call has already directly affected the opposition media. Gen-I, a state-owned electric power distribution company, has withheld the publication of an advertisement in the opposition’s weekly magazine Demokracija immediately after the Prime Minister’s post. The company has decided to do so without providing any explanation for their actions and despite the fact that the publication of the ad has already been agreed upon and ordered. Instead of the ad, the weekly has printed an empty page which reads this page was supposed to feature an ad that was withheld on account of the Prime Minister’s call.

The Association of Journalists and Commentators, Slovenia (2 December 2018)