RTVS confusion ends with appointment of new director
On 25 April, the Advisory Council of RTVS elected Aleks Štakul the new general director of Radio-Television Slovenija with 14 of 25 votes. Štakul is a former assistant general director for economic questions, and was an on-screen economic commentator for RTVS. Parliament must still approve the appointment.
This was the third attempt to elect a new general director. The first saw then-current general director Janez Čadež re-elected. Journalist unions and syndicates went on the warpath, as Čadež is currently under investigation by a court of audit for alleged financial wrongdoings in his previous term, of which he denies any knowledge. Parliament refused to confirm the appointment.
The second attempt saw none of the candidates managing to get enough votes to win, though Štakul came the closest, winning 11 of the 13 necessary. Had the third round of voting not produced a satisfactory result, the Syndicate of Journalists was threatening to call for the Advisory Board's members to step down, and if necessary would have called for a general strike of journalists throughout the country.
Media law passed on third attempt
With a vote of 32 to 12 of only 50 MPs present, parliament passed the long-awaited and highly controversial Law on Media this week. The law will introduce a number of changes into the way media is regulated and promoted.
Generally, the law increases the responsibility of media to the state, and further increases the influence the state has in the programming of state-run media, questions of ownership and internal organization.
On the plus side, special provisions were made to regulate the use of the Slovene language in the media, as well as to sanction the promotion of intolerance through the media.
After much haggling, the controversial Fund for Audio Visual Materials did finally end up in the law. The law also provides guidelines for the amount and manner of support the government is required to budget each year for media activities.
The draft law has been reworked several times over the course of the past three years, but remains highly controversial. Everyone agrees that a new Media Law is necessary, however, nobody seems to agree on just what it should cover.
Census details released
The first census of an independent Slovenia will be conducted from 1 to 15 April of next year. On Friday, the new Law on the Census of Inhabitants, Households and Residences for the year 2001 entered into force and forms the legislative mandate for the exercise.
Apart from basic information such as name, surname, sex, address and number of people in the household, the questionnaires will also ask for several groups of more specific information.
A group of questions will be asked including number of live births in the household, level of education, literacy, to gather up-to-date social indicators.
Another interesting cluster of questions will concern employment. The questions asked will concern employment status, profession, normal working hours, location of workplace/place of study, length of commute to workplace/place of study and primary source of income.
Two more sets of questions could give an interesting insight into the changes the population has undergone since independence. First is a string of questions about migration and movement of persons, such as length of residence at current address, place of birth, residency at birth, citizenship and legal status; the second is about self-identification, such as national (ethnic) affiliation, religious affiliation, mother tongue and language used in the household.
This data could wildly differ from data gathered from the last census due to refugees and other migrants from other parts of the former Yugoslavia and immigrants and asylum seekers from elsewhere, as well as increased levels of self-identification among ethnic minorities since independence.
Parliament passed the census law last July, but the government failed to provide sufficient funds in the 2000 budget to carry out the plan. The census is expected to cost USD 17 million, and the 2001 budget allots only USD 1.6 million. Next year's budget allots an additional USD 12 million, 2003 a further USD 1.3 million and 2004 USD 750,000.
This will be the first census since Slovenia's independence in July 1991, and the sixth since the end of world war two. The last census of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia was conducted in the spring of 1991.
Old Neighbors—New Partners
At a two-day conference entitled "Old Neighbors—New Partners," participants praised the high levels of cooperation between Austria and Slovenia, and particularly between the Slovene city of Maribor and the Austrian city of Graz. The first day of the conference, 19 April, was held in Graz, and it concluded the following day in Maribor.
Maribor mayor Boris Sovič told the conference that regions are older than states and form more natural units. He also took the occasion to once again criticize Slovenia's lack of a coherent regional policy.
Graz mayor Alfred Stingl stressed that cooperation between his city and Maribor has been extensive for more than a decade, but that the creation of an informal micro-region could help expand cooperation in specific fields.
And in other news...
- After a three-year hiatus, the pop band Pop Design has announced that it has reunited and will release a new album sometime in May. The band was a fixture on the Slovene pop music scene in the early nineties, but broke up several years ago as its members went on to pursue solo projects. The new album, called Prihajam Domov (I'm Coming Home) will be made up exclusively of updated reworkings of the band's greatest hits.
- Released just two months ago, Tinkara Kovač earned a gold record this week for her album Na Robu Kroga (On the Edge of the Circle). At last year's Zlate Peteline music awards, Kovač won awards for performer of the year and best pop album for her album Košček (Scrap). The video for the second single off Na Robu Kroga, Sonce v Očeh (Sun in my Eyes) has just been completed and should be released soon.
- Lord of the Dance arrived in Ljubljana on 24 April for a three day stay at the capital's Hala Tivoli venue. The show has been seen by more than seven million in the past five years and is currently on a tour taking it to Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey, Slovenia, Germany, France and the UK.
Brian J Požun, 27 April 2001
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