Legal Environment: 4
Political Influences: 9
Economic Pressures: 7
Total Score: 20
Life Expectancy: 77
Religious Groups: Catholic (57.8 percent), Orthodox (2.3 percent), Muslim (2.4 percent), other (37.5 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Slovene (83.1 percent), Serb (2 percent), Croat (1.8 percent) Bosniak (1.1 percent), other (12 percent)
The constitution provides for freedom of expression and of the press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. Nevertheless, both unreformed and recently adopted laws have the potential to hinder press freedom. Although libel is not punishable with prison terms, it remains a criminal offense. In November, a controversial new law on the public broadcaster RTV Slovenia entered into force. International and local media organizations criticized the legislation for its vague language and potential adverse effects on media freedom and editorial independence. The law was first published in April without debate or input from local media organizations, and was approved by a national referendum with an extremely narrow margin in September. The law, prepared by the Ministry of Culture, stipulates that the Parliament will appoint 16 members of the 29-member Programming Council, including the director general, who now has more authority over high-level editorial jobs. The new law also establishes a special national television program to broadcast sessions of the Parliament. The government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa maintains it introduced the law to ensure the independence of board members, while opposition and media groups contend the law will allow the government to influence the council's decisions.
In June, the weekly Mladina reported that the government's public relations officers had restricted communication with the prestigious newspaper under orders from the main governmental spokesperson, Jernej Pavlin, following a series of articles criticizing the government. Pavlin quickly took full responsibility for the affair and handed in his resignation, but the scandal had already brought into question the integrity and transparency of the Jansa administration. In spring, POP TV reporter Damjana Seme was under unjustified police surveillance because Franc Kangler, head of the parliamentary intelligence oversight commission, wondered how the reporter acquired information on pretrial proceedings of a case involving a politician. An investigation was opened later, and the transgression of the police's power was condemned.
Slovenian media are active, diverse, and largely independent. However, investigative journalism is scarce, and media do not go out of their way to express a wide range of political opinions. Most large media outlets are privately financed, but the government holds partial ownership in several companies that own major media houses, and reports indicate that indirect government influence led to a degree of self-censorship. In a controversial move, Slovenia's main news publishing group, Delo, bought the small right-leaning weekly Mag, which then took over Delo's main newspaper. Media organizations criticized the publisher's purely economic goals, which they say threatened media diversity. In October, after more than 60 years, the BBC closed its Slovenia section as well as 11 other European sections, owing to financial expenses and expansion into Arabic countries. Three of the six national television channels were part of the government-subsidized RTV Slovenia network. Internet usage is high and unrestricted.
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