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Slovenia: Government Communication Office must stop controlling COVID-19 news coverage

As part of the MFRR, IPI calls on the Government Communication Office (UKOM) to ensure full media participation during press conferences

IPI urged UKOM to ensure that journalists from all media outlets were given adequate opportunity to question ministers at online government press conferences.

On February 3, 2021, Slovenia’s public broadcaster, RTV Slovenija, reported that Bojana Beović, head of the advisory group at the Ministry of Health, was denied permission to appear on its late-night news show Odmevi to comment on false positive results in rapid antigen tests.

RTVSLO reported that in response to emailed interview requests, it received a message saying that UKOM Director Uroš Urbanija had “forbidden” officials from providing answers to media or giving interviews.

It was later reported that Education Minister Simona Kustec, Milan Krek, director of the National Institute of Public Health, and other health officials were also refused permission to appear on commercial television station Kanal A to give interviews on the testing system.

UKOM’s policy was condemned by both the Slovenian Union of Journalists (SNS) and the Slovene Association of Journalists (DNS) as an act of censorship, though the government body has rejected the criticism.

Nik Williams