UPDATE 5: PBS unfair and unbalanced - PL
Gino Cauchi, Labour Party (PL) Spokesperson for Media and Social Dialogue, said today that the decision issued by the Broadcasting Authority with respect to Public Broadcasting Services is further confirmation of the arrogance of the national station’s administration, particularly that of registered editor Natalino Fenech.
Mr Cauchi said that this arrogance reached a climax when Dr Fenech said that if PL will not be dictated to, he would prevent democratic representatives of the people from being allowed to participate in PBS’ programmes, which are paid for by taxpayers.
He said that the authority’s decision shared PL’s point of view and that PL objected to PBS’ decision, which was made without any form of consultation.
“GonziPN never indicated that it disagrees with the decision, and this very clearly reveals that PBS wanted to change the practices that had been in use for a long time simply to have other means to give a political advantage to GonziPN in this delicate period preceding the general election,” Mr Cauchi said.
The PL spokesperson added that in the past, PBS, under its current administration, was found guilty by the Broadcasting Authority of being imbalanced to the detriment of the Labour Party on numerous occasions. Today’s decision further confirmed that PBS’ present administration “has no credentials or credibility when it comes to their obligation to ensure balance and fairness, especially in the sensitive period of electoral campaigns”, he said.
Mr Cauchi concluded that this is a situation that is seriously undermining democracy in the country.
Earlier today, the Broadcasting Authority held that there is no need to review a system which has proved satisfactory for a number of years.
In the past few days, the Public Broadcasting Service had asked the Broadcasting Authority A for directions in view of new policies regarding the attendance of political guests on TV programmes. In its reply, the Broadcasting Authority stated that there is no need to alter the policies which have been used for the past few years.
In a reaction to a press release issued yesterday by PBS, the Labour Party's (PL) Deputy Leader Tony Abela held that no matter what directives are issued by PBS, PL will participate in all discussion programmes.
Dr Abela expressed how he cannot understand the reason for PBS' imposition of who represents PL when in the past, the party always sent a representative of its choice and there were never any complications. While PBS and other producers have the right to invite particular guests on their programmes, they cannot impose attendance nor can they control the situation if a party chooses to be represented by a different person.
PL does not trust that the administration of PBS will allow PL a level playing field, Dr Abela continued, and if PBS blocks PL from participating on discussion programmes, this will be seen as a boycott by PBS against PL, and the party reserves the right to react in any way available in order to safeguard its interests.
PL Spokesperson for Media Affairs Gino Cauchi said that it is the prerogative of PBS to select TV producers and discussion subjects, however it is the prerogative of PL to choose who the representative will be. Mr Cauchi held that in the light of the current political climate, balance in the public broadcasting is paramount. Based on decisions taken by the Broadcasting Authority with regards to the PBS newsroom and current affairs programmes, PL has no choice but to distrust the administration of PBS, Mr Cauchi concluded.
Reacting to the same press release, the Nationalist Party (PN) held that Joseph Muscat is against stations having the right to invite guests of their choice and wants to impose who attends, censoring his own deputies in a bid to promote the "clique" of his choice.
PN argued that Dr Muscat, instead of allowing shadow minister Charles Mangion to participate on Bondiplus, chose Karmenu Vella to appear. This proves that people like Charles Mangion who are not a part of the "clique" will be cut off while those like ex-Minister Karmenu Vella will be awarded, PN said. Under the ministerial term of Karmenu Vella, unemployment had reached 10,000 people, and the trust Joseph Muscat places in Karmenu Vella, including adjudicating to him the drafting of PL’s electoral programme, proves that PL’s future is interconnected with the past.
Earlier today, Television Malta (TVM) wrote to the Broadcasting Authority after the Labour Party (PL) tried to get guests of its choice on the station rather than leave it up to the station to decide who to invite.
The political parties were informed of this after PBS said that producers should invite guests on shows rather than letting the parties do it.
While PL never objected to this policy, it is insisting that it should send whoever it wants, TVM said in a statement.
Last year, the Labour Party sent new candidates instead of parliamentary members and then objected to the situation because there were far more PN parliamentary members than PL ones, TVM added.
Opposition Spokesperson Charles Mangion was invited on the programme Bondi+ on TVM2, but the party is insisting that he is to be substituted by Karmenu Vella, TVM concluded, before saying that it will follow the Broadcasting Authority's decision on the matter.