Control over media: Is Slovenia trying to copy Hungary?
The Slovenian government has cut off state funding for the news agency STA, citing alleged breaches of contract. The agency received around two million euros from the state in 2019, roughly the same amount it earned on the free market. It now says it is facing bankruptcy as a result of the government's move. Slovenia's right-wing nationalist Prime Minister Janez Janša has repeatedly attacked STA in recent months. What exactly is he trying to achieve?
Fighting the media instead of the pandemic
Petra Lesjak Tušek, President of the Slovenian Journalists' Association, says in Večer that it is crystal clear what is going on here:
“The fact that the government tends to control the media with a refined strategy instead of controlling the pandemic is not surprising after all that has gone on and the steps taken by the government so far. It has lost all control over the coronavirus pandemic, and has also completely botched the communication with the citizens. Now it's trying to take over the media at any cost, starting at the grassroots level, the agencies. The intention is not only to eliminate all doubts, concerns and criticism, but also to prevent any journalistic questions that the media might pose on behalf of the public. It wants to create its own 'editorial' policy, in which the government's message is the final message.”
Janša following in Trump's footsteps
The Slovenian prime minister is emulating his role role model, Večernji list observes:
“Janša's merciless war against the media has been going on for months now, in fact ever since his government was confirmed by parliament [at the beginning of March]. And as the cutting of funding for the Slovenian news agency STA shows, it is escalating. ... Janša is ignoring the prevailing opinion that politicians cannot win the war with the media and banking on the example set by Donald Trump, his political role model. Trump has profited from his attacks on mainstream media because in this way he mobilised his voter base. Janša is trying to do the same in Slovenia.”