Apr`es Moi, Le Déluge

News broke this afternoon that Studio City, the iconic RTVSLO programme, long a thorn in the side of soon-to-be-ex PM Janez Janša and his cronies, is to have its host Marcel Štefančič, jr. axed and its format radically altered. This, obviously, was not entirely unexpected.

Marcel Štefančič, host of Studio City, circa 2013.
Studio City and its host Marcel Štefančič, jr., circa 2013 (photo by yours truly)

All the evidence pointed to something like this. Not in the least because the outgoing regime and its recently-installed peons at RTVSLO spent the last couple of months dismantling every single bit of programming that dared look at the government with a critical eye. Studio City was right at the top of that list. However, that it should be done on 3 May, the World Press Freedom Day, is – not to be too direct – sadistic.

Studio City is a weird piece of programming. In a sense, it is everything a prime-time news-commentary TV programme should be. It also what powers that be never wanted a prime-time news commentary TV programme to be.

It is (was?) unapologetically urban-liberal, which means that it liked nothing better than to take aim at liberal and left-wing politicians. But it also meant it is (was?) a staunch defender of human rights, democratic values and free press. You know, the kind of stuff woke social justice warrior libtards usually fall for.

But it was also a programme everyone wanted to be on. Even right wing politicians. Well, most of them, anyway. SDS people usually avoided it like a plague. And for good reason (see below). Point is that Studio City has (had?) high ratings and was a good show to be on.

Death by a thousand cuts

The mechanics of taking Studio City off the air – because that’s what revamping the format and changing the host overnight amount to – were tantamount to a death by a thousand cuts.

It all began with outside contributors, people who were paid peanuts to do a three minute opinion segment into a camera. RTVSLO leadership decided not to renew their contracts.

Then it was election season and Studio City was taken off the air together with Tarča (a high-octane/high-ratings news-debate programme), ostensibly to make room for election debates. Because of course the debates had to be scheduled for exactly those specific evenings.

And then the election was over and the Glorious Leader lost big time. Tarča made it back, but Studio City didn’t. Instead, the management decided that, on second thought, it will not renew host Marcel Štefančič’s contract either. And when Štefančič said that he’ll host the show for free for a few months, the Janša-aligned RTVSLO leadership pushed the return of Studio City from 9 May to 30 May, and announced a new host and a new format, citing Štefančič’s recent strong criticism of RTVSLO leadership.

And just like that, they killed a show that has been on the air more or less continuously for the past 33 years.

Scorched earth policy

There are several layers to this dumbfuckery. First, the outgoing regime seems to have decided to go out with a scorched earth policy. Janša et al. simply do not give a shit anymore about anything or anyone. If they are not the ones running the show, they seem hell-bent on ruining it for everyone else.

It’s not just Studio City. It is the general zero-fucks given attitude that seems to have set in after the election blowout.

Days ago, there was a special EU summit on energy crisis. The one about Russian oil embargo and war in Ukraine. Remember how invested Marshal Twito was in that war? Well, this week, he and his foreign minister couldn’t be arsed to send a high-ranking government official to the summit, so deputy head of Slovenian mission to the EU had to fill in.

Just today, the European Parliament took a vote on the new EP election rules and voted in favour of transnational lists. This is just a first step in a process that may yet fail, but the point here is that SDS MEP Romana Tomc went flat out against the idea, describing it as dangerous to smaller member states. This is, of course, very Višegrad and wrong, but it is interesting to see the SDS return to its default nativist setting the moment it is out of power.

Sore losers

And finally, the issue of petrol prices. Just before the election, Janša’s government – allegedly because if the looming energy crisis – re-instituted petrol price controls. Sure, they braged about it, saying they made sure people still get cheap diesel. But officially, it was all about staving off an oil shock. But when the ungrateful voters voted Janša out, despite having the privilege of lower gasoline prices, the government suddenly found no reason to continue with the price controls. And their propaganda network quite literally said it was Golob’s fault.

What we have here, are attempts by the sore losers in power to burn to the ground as much as they can, so that the incoming government will have the hardest possible time picking up the pieces.

However, the above is just one layer. There is another one, much more personal for Janša. And since performing for the audience of one is the order of the day for his cronies, this aspect is personal for the people killing off Studio City, too.

The ghost of Depala Vas

Namely, it was Studio City that broke the story of the Depala Vas Affair, Janša’s first brush with using military to settle civilian affairs (it was also the subject of one of pengovsky’s earliest blogposts). This affair, back in 1994, was the key moment both for development of Slovenian democracy and for political development of Janez Janša. It was also an early and strong indicator that the two are, in the final analysis, mutually exclusive.

Janez Janša has many faults, but a bad memory is not one of them. He remembers very well just how important Studio City was in unmasking his attempts at putting himself, defence minister at the time, and the military outside of civilian control.

And this, ultimately, is why Studio City needs to be killed off now. Because there may not be another chance.

Flood the zone with shit

“Apres moi, le deluge” is what Louis XV of France apparently said to Madame de Pompadour, after he got his ass handed to him by the Prussians in the battle of Rossbach in 1757. But old Louis’ quip was defeatist (and based on a bad combo of the Bible and amateur astronomy).

The outgoing Slovenian regime, however, has a very different deluge in mind. Channeling the learnings of Steve Bannon, they are – quite simply – flooding the zone with shit.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

2 thoughts on “Apr`es Moi, Le Déluge”

  1. What is the difficulty of simply reversing the changes made under Janša once he is out of power?

  2. First, the RTVSLO enjoys substantial procedural autonomy. In this case, it is governed by something called Progamming Council, with an out-of-sync election cycle. Which is why Janša had to wait for previous council to expire in order to stuff it with his people, which started the takeover in earnest. Meaning that in order to undo the damage, a new council would have to be appointed, which would then have to wait for the Director General to either resign or his term to expire, and so on, ad nauseam.

    Second, the goal here is to get more even autonomy for RTVSLO. Despite the above, the institution is still vulnerable to political pressure, especially when the council is stuffed with political appointees who don’t give a shit about programming quality, as long as it deifies whatever political master they answer to.

    So, the only plausible way forward here is to draft a brand new law on RTVSLO and reincorporate the entire thing with a new management structure.

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