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Press release regarding the Slovenian Press Agency

Today, the Government Communication Office (UKOM) sent the second draft of the contract to the Slovenian Press Agency that provides for the financing of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), a public service, as defined by the Slovenian Press Agency Act. Numerous details were coordinated at yesterday’s coordination meeting. Currently, there are two elements that have yet to be coordinated. In the Slovenian Press Agency Act, it is stated that all content created as part of a public service must be freely accessible to all under equal conditions. Irrespective of this legal provision, the STA’s director Bojan Veselinović insists on continuing to sell certain services on the free market that are part of a public service and, in doing so, is in clear violation of the law, because those paying for the service would have different access to these services than those not paying for it.

It is UKOM’s opinion that such disregard of the law is unacceptable, because this clearly constitutes discrimination of those without the means to afford these additional costs. The photography services have been highlighted as the most problematic, because the head of the STA expects this service to be paid for twice. First, it is paid for in full by the state, and then he would like to sell it on the market as well. In addition to the photography services, the radio services, the key elements of which (the audio statements) are only accessible to those who pay for it, are partially problematic, because the law clearly states that these services must be adapted to the radio medium as well (it is not permitted to publish only the text).

In that respect, we welcome the adaptations to services and the fulfilment of legal obligations in regards to publishing content in its entirety, in Slovenian as well as English, which, among other things, also covers minority issues. UKOM was the one who insisted on this news being freely available to everyone in accordance with the relevant Act.

In terms of charging for all the services provided for by the Act, UKOM addressed a request to the STA on 18 June 2021 for Mr Veselinović to provide a price list for its market services. The price list serves as the basis for the monthly statement of services. It was UKOM's expectations that he would provide this information immediately. Unfortunately, he did not, so UKOM reiterated the request for the information required on 7 July 2021, because it is not possible to draw up nor to conclude the contract without it. Mr Veselinović only provided this information on Friday, 9 July 2021. Why he required no less than three weeks and provided the information only after an additional request from UKOM is not known. In any case, this does not demonstrate a desire for the financing of the STA to be regulated as soon as possible.

Regardless of this complication, UKOM accepted three cost headings sent by the STA’s director right away, namely the cost of photographs, the radio service and the publication of content in its entirety for national minorities and Slovenians living abroad. Unfortunately, UKOM was not able to accept the alleged cost estimate of the STA in preparing and publishing summaries in Slovenian and English in all other areas. It is entirely illogical that Mr Veselinović expects the state to pay the same amount for the summary as for the entire article. Therefore, we have called on the STA’s director to provide realistic cost estimates for the two legally prescribed categories at market value and his own valuation in the past as well.