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UKOM Director Urbanija on the malicious attacks of the media: STA director Veselinovič was warned in advance that he would be responsible for the financial distress if he did not submit the necessary documentation!

Director of the Government Communication Office Uroš Urbanija, M.Sc. (Photo: Nova24TV)

The director of the Government Communication Office (Urad vlade za komuniciranje – referred to as UKOM), Uroš Urbanija, and the director of the Slovenian Press Agency (Slovenska tiskovna agencija – referred to as STA), Bojan Veselinovič, were both supposed to come to our show Tema dneva (Topic of the Day) and discuss the matter of financing of the STA; however, the latter apologised, so only Uroš Urbanija came to the studio and shared his side of the story. 

Director of the Government Communication Office, Uroš Urbanija, was the only guest on our show Tema dneva (Topic of the Day). Bojan Veselinovič, director of the Slovenian Press Agency, apologised for his absence. Urbanija shared his side of the story and rejected all allegations, which are mainly coming from the Levica party, and he once again pointed out that the fake news that was launched by the mainstream media, claiming that the government has stopped funding the STA, is false.

Urbanija responded to Veselinovič’s first accusation, which has also been promoted by the mainstream media, namely, that UKOM is not a representative of the government. Urbanija pointed out that he has brought a contract with him, which Veselinovič signed with Urbanija’s predecessor at UKOM, which clearly states that UKOM is the “representative of the owner.”

Director Veselinovič was warned that he would bear full responsibility for STA’s financial distress
Urbanija also added that the Slovenian Press Agency Law is clear. Adequate funding for the STA needs to be ensured, and all these years, this has been regulated by UKOM. However, he questioned the diction of “appropriate” funding and wondered how this had been determined in the past. He pointed out that “in principle, you can find out the what the appropriate financing of a company would be, by reviewing the company’s business records for the previous year, or maybe two, to get a sense of what the company’s actual costs are.” UKOM expected nothing more and nothing less from Veselinovič. To this end, they already sent a request to director Veselinovič in October, asking him to send them all of the necessary documentation, so that they could draw up a new contract for the year 2021. To date, Veselinovič has still not sent the requested documentation to UKOM, however, in the meantime, he has forwarded all UKOM’s requests to the supervisory board of the STA, which decided that UKOM needs to contact director Veselinovič for all documentation.

UKOM sent a request to Veselinovič once again, and since there was no answer, they began to warn him that he would be to blame for the company’s financial distress and that he would bear all objective responsibility for it. Veselinovič began making up excuses, saying that the government should send him the request, to which Urbanija responded that “in the meantime, he could have still sent all of the documentation to the government if he has any problems with sending it to UKOM.”

Longer interviews for more money
Urbanija also responded to Levica’s allegations that the sending of the letters with Veselinovič began in September already and that this was a well-thought-out action, the proof of which was, supposedly, that they asked Veselinovič about the content of the interview with Zlatan Čodrić – Zlatko. He said that this was in fact not true, as they did not ask about the contents of the interview, but about the length of the interview. They asked about the length of the interview, to try and establish the appropriate financing of the public service, as provided by the STA. Public service is already defined in the law, but the definition is quite loose – to the extent that it is possible to constantly add and invent new services. By inquiring about the length of the interview, UKOM wanted to find out whether it was part of the system, or a described attempt to “draw more and more funds from the state budget.”

On the 4th of November, the STA supervisory board also confirmed that UKOM had not interfered in the content and the autonomy of the STA, which is why Urbanija reiterated that Veselinovič’s statements were misleading. He then also revealed some pretty incredible information to the public. Under Šarec ‘s government, Veselinovič and UKOM signed an agreement, stipulating that the STA was obliged to provide UKOM with substantive documentation on the operating of the public service. Urbanija described this as unheard of, according to his criteria, but it is interesting that now, Veselinovič is trying to shift the blame to UKOM – which is currently under the leadership of Urbanija, even though they did not get involved in the content at all.

Malicious attacks of the media
At the end of the show, the host and Urbanija once again touched on the fake news in the mainstream media, which claim that the government had adopted a decision to stop funding the STA, and the allegations that this happened due to UKOM’s poor communication. Urbanija replied that UKOM had simply sent the information about UKOM’s inability to finance the STA to the government and that the reason for it was, of course, that they had not received the necessary documentation. The government was indeed informed of this but has not taken any decision to stop funding the STA, as has been falsely reported by some major media outlets. And since UKOM’s decision was not written “in Chinese,” as Urbanija put it, an interpretation like this cannot be interpreted as anything else, but malicious.

Aleš Ernecl