STA needs long-term, viable and sustainable funding

10th November 2021
Reports that the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) has reached a funding agreement with the Slovenian Government until the end of the year is encouraging. But the Slovenian authorities must now commit to providing the news agency with stable, secure, and long-term funding, with greater protection from state capture and political interference. 
Credit: Slovenian Press Agency (STA)

On 8 November, it was announced STA’s acting director, Igor Kadunc had agreed a contract with the Government Communication Office’s Director, Uroš Urbanija. As per STA’s report, it guarantees the news agency €2.028 million for the remaining two months of the year.

The Slovenian Government had withheld its funding for the STA for more than 300 days, putting enormous pressure on the organisation and the journalists who work there. At the end of October, Bojan Veselinovič resigned from his position as STA’s Director. But in a year when Slovenia holds the EU Presidency, there had been additional pressure on Janez Janša’s government from both the European Parliament and the European Commissioner for Human Rights to restore the agency’s funding.

Read more: MEPs message to Slovenian Government must be heeded

The agreement between the agency and the government provides a relative amount of security and stability for those who work there. Kadunc said the contract will “enable normal financing and thus also the activity of the STA this year, as well as for next year we will have something left.” It appears that the news was also warmly received by the Slovenian President, Borut Pahor. He wrote on Twitter that STA “performs an irreplaceable agency mission in the media space.”

But for the journalists who work for STA, there are many concerns about the current arrangement and the organisation’s future sustainability. In a statement, they said they fear the editorial autonomy and the financial position of the STA is still in a precarious situation. They commented on the impact the lack of funding for nearly a year has had on their ability to fulfil their role as a public service media. “A number of excellent collaborators have left us, the agony has jeopardised the quality of the agency service we provide to the public, stopped many development projects and, last but not least, mentally exhausted us.”

With funding only guaranteed for the next two months, the agency still faces a struggle to guarantee its long-term sustainability and future. The Slovenian Government must now take responsibility to assure the agency it will maintain its editorial independence, and provide it with a sustainable funding stream, free from political interference.