Slovenia’s state news agency STA in danger of closing down, reporters say

NEWS 31.08.2021 16:57
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Source: Pixabay (ilustracija)

Journalists of the Slovenian state news agency STA warned on Tuesday that their company is in danger of closing down because the government led by Prime Minister Janez Jansa has been refusing to fund their services almost seven months now, alleging that this is because of their editorial policy, Croatian state agency Hina reported.

In an appeal to Slovenian politicians and European institutions, STA reporters said that the agency had funds to pay just one more salary to their employees. Hina did not report how many people are employed by STA.

“We may become insolvent as early as October,” the agency said in an unsigned statement sent to the Parliament, the government, and President Borut Pahor, and called on them to “finally do something” about this.

The agency has also informed European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President, Charles Michel, and European Parliament President, David Sassoli, of the situation.

For months now STA leadership and reporters have been at odds with the Janez Jansa government which has been refusing to pay STA €2 million out of the government coffers. This funding, which makes up half of its annual €4 million budget, is what the agency is entitled to by law as it is designated as a government-funded public service. STA earns the other half of their budget by selling subscriptions and other services on the market.

“Meanwhile the agency has raised donations for its financing, and has kept regularly producing news even though 15 of its staff have left due to the uncertain situation,” Hina said. Under the law on STA, the government had made regular monthly payments to the agency until early 2021.

Prime Minister Janez Jansa has on several occasions accused the agency of allegedly disseminating “fake news”, calling it a disgrace and demanding a change of its leadership.

STA recently rejected a new draft contract offered by the government, which included provisions demanding greater control of the agency.

Since Jansa took office in March 2020, journalists’ associations and the opposition have been criticizing Jansa of exerting pressure on the state agency STA and the state broadcaster RTV SLO in order to gain more favorable coverage ahead of parliamentary elections set for spring 2022.

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