Press freedom deteriorating in Slovenia under latest Janša government

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Slovenian Press Agency

While Slovenia takes over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union in July 2021, media freedom organisations, civil society groups, and European institutions are concerned about a steady deterioration of media freedom within the country.

Over the last 14 months, independent journalism has come under sustained pressure on multiple fronts, with a dominant role for the coalition government led by the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS). Although the country still displays a high level of media pluralism and freedom of expression overall, it is no longer a relative safe haven for free media. These conclusions are presented in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) report that followed from an online fact-finding mission to Slovenia between 24 May - 2 June 2021 that Free Press Unlimited took part in.
 

Undermining critical journalism

Since March 2020, the public administration has systematically set about undermining critical journalism, reaching for control of public service media and reshaping the media landscape to boost SDS propaganda channels while pressuring mainstream media. Most disturbingly, the Prime Minister Janez Janša and other public officials systematically portray critics as part of a deep state cabal of former communists, spreading fake news. Critical and watchdog reporting is delegitimised as “opposition journalism”, waging war on the party. This has resulted in a toxic climate of hostility towards the press, which has contributed to an increase in harassment and threats against journalists, both online and offline.
 

Selective financial support

At the same time, the front line of the administration’s so-called “war with the media” is the struggle to control public service media. Under the Ministry of Culture’s 2021 media co-financing fund, state money has been withdrawn from critical investigative media and special status radio stations, while media supportive of the SDS have seen funding increase. In addition, over the last nine months, the SDS and the Government Communication Office (UKOM) have set about destabilising and financially choke the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), by manufacturing a contractual debate despite explicit legal obligations for the government to provide sustainable funding to STA. These are only two of the large concerns that we have about the growing pressure on media freedom in Slovenia.

The fact-finding mission was jointly led by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI) in partnership with the Slovenian Journalists’ Association (DNS), and was joined by Article 19, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), and Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT). Representatives of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), European Broadcasting Union (EBU), South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), and the Public Media Alliance (PMA) also participated.
 

You can read the full report here:

 

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) is one of Free Press Unlimited’s projects and tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries. This project provides legal and practical support, public advocacy and information to protect journalists and media workers. 

 

Watch the online press conference

 

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