A climate of hostility toward journalists has defused since Prime Minister Janez Janša’s departure in 2022 and the legal framework protecting press freedom remains strong. But the media continue to face political pressure.
The Slovenian media market may be small, but it is diverse. The broadcast sector includes the influential RTV Slovenija as well as privately owned stations, such as POP TV. Online newspapers include traditional titles such as Delo and Vecer, as well as newer sites such as Necenzurirano.si. Few media outlets are directly controlled by a political party.
Political pressure on the state-owned media increased considerably from 2020 to 2022 under Prime Minister Janez Janša, who often insulted journalists he considered overly critical. The pressure has not disappeared since Robert Golob replaced Janša as prime minister in June 2022.
Press freedom is protected by a solid legal framework. But defamation has not yet been decriminalised, allowing politicians to initiate SLAPPs against the media. Some media outlets have also been subjected to judicial pressure to disclose sources. During the Covid-19 pandemic, journalists critical of the government accused the authorities of discriminating against them when granting access to public information.
Private-sector advertising and content monetisation provide a major share of the media’s revenue, while state-sector advertising is allocated opaquely. Media outlets controlled by those close to former Prime Minister Janez Janša's Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) have benefitted from investment by Hungarian oligarchs allied with Viktor Orbán. The lack of media ownership transparency – the legacy of weakly regulated privatisation – threatens the independence of some media outlets.
Journalists who have investigated corruption or the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic have faced online harassment by the former prime minister’s supporters. Women journalists have been threatened in an especially violent manner. On the other hand, members of the public showed strong support for journalists by contributing massively to a crowdfunding initiative organised by STA, the national press agency, after the government suspended its financing.
In a climate of political polarisation accentuated by aggressive rhetoric from some politicians, journalists have been repeatedly insulted or assaulted during demonstrations over the past two years, whether or not they had been critical of the government.