Slovenia Holds Referendum on New TV Law

By Matevz Rudolf

    LJUBLJANA: A referendum on a new law to reform the institutional framework of public broadcaster RTV Slovenia (www.rtvslo.si) will be held on 12 December 2010.

    Culture Minister Majda Širca (www.mk.gov.si) rejected criticisms of the law, saying that it gives RTV more autonomy and is expected to result in greater economic efficiency, and that it was carefully drafted with the participation of many media experts. Her arguments are similar to Michael A. Wagner (Deputy Director of Legal Department on European Broadcasting Union (www.ebu.ch)) who stated: "The Act modernizes the legal framework for public service broadcasting in Slovenia, it accommodates new requirements under European Union law, and it clarifies the public service remit of RTV Slovenia, in particular in the new media field."

    If the referendum passes, RTV will alter the makeup of its council. Most importantly, it will not be a public institution anymore but an "independent subject of public law of special cultural and national importance." Critics of the law, which include RTV employees, claim that the government is trying to politicize the public broadcaster with the new structure of its council.

    The Slovenian newspaper Delo reported that a poll showed only 19% of the public will vote in the referendum and that the outcome will be very tight. The real issue is not new TV law, but political differences between the government and the opposition. The last TV law in Slovenia was passed in 2005.