Slovenia Seen Emulating Hungary, Poland with Media Reforms

Slovenia’s right-wing prime minister, Janez Jansa, is taking a leaf out of Viktor Orban’s book with changes to the way public service media are funded and run, watchdogs warn.

International media watchdogs have reacted with alarm to recently-unveiled plans by Slovenia’s government to amend public service media legislation, seeing the proposed changes as a brazen attempt to rein in state media that Prime Minister Janez Jansa has repeatedly accused of left-wing bias.

Public broadcaster RTV Slovenija faces losing 13 million euros in public funding, a blow that director-general Igor Kadunc warned would result in 600 job losses. Changes to the law on the Slovenian Press Agency would give the government greater say over the selection of the state news agency’s supervisors and dismissal of its director.

Media watchdogs and journalist associations are up in arms; some have accused Jansa of trying to emulate his political ally Viktor Orban in Hungary, where media freedoms have come under assault.

The Media Freedom Rapid Response, MFRR, which brings together leading press watchdogs such as the International Press Institute and Article 19, said the amendments, proposed on July 9, have “the potential to financially weaken the public broadcaster and allow far greater government control over the management of public service media”.

Concern had already been growing over media freedoms in Slovenia under Jansa, whose coalition government took power in March. Leader of the right-wing Slovenian Democratic Party, SDS, Jansa has a history of hostility towards the media in Slovenia.

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