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Behind the scenes

The battle to oust Borg Cardona has been won, but employees might still have to contend with a war against wasteful human resources

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan
3 April 2017, 7:44am
Some weeks ago we carried a story on the Broadcasting Authority. The focus was the former BA chairman Tanya Borg Cardona. She has now resigned after a mutiny from her staff at the authority
Some weeks ago we carried a story on the Broadcasting Authority. The focus was the former BA chairman Tanya Borg Cardona. She has now resigned after a mutiny from her staff at the authority
This is a small country and it is not unusual that during the course of our work we come across people we know, have been our friends or in fact are our friends. And it is not unusual that most journalists will steer clear of writing about their friends, for obvious reasons.

In such cases, journalists should neither be prevented from declaring their conflicts, nor should they be prohibited from giving their friends the right kind of advice when they are subjects of interest to the press.

But this seldom impacts a newspaper’s agenda, like MaltaToday, to write about the person anyway, of course with another journalist tasked to do the report. Most stories get written irrespective of this connection. At least, that is what I would to think has happened in the majority of reports all these years.

It is a harsh reality that many journalists will have to learn at their own expense. Throughout my career I have lost many friends because of my decision to write no matter what. I am not too sure which is more important: the truth or the friendship.

Some weeks ago we carried a story on the Broadcasting Authority. The focus was the former BA chairman Tanya Borg Cardona. She has now resigned after a mutiny from her staff at the authority.

I know Borg Cardona as a good friend. We crossed paths in the campaign for EU accession (Iva Malta fl-Ewropa) and unlike many others in that campaign, we kept the friendship going.

The newsroom staff wrote what it wrote, relaying the general negative reaction from the staff at the BA. It underlined a feeling that I had personally expressed to Borg Cardona when she had been first nominated, warning her that the BA was a minefield and that she did not know what she was getting into. It was not going to be her cup of tea.

That, of course, is a nice way of saying things.

But now that the saga is partly over, it is perhaps appropriate to talk about the real issue at BA. The employees were irate at her brash style, and intention to change the BA’s premises to an unsuitable location in Valletta, a decision which so far has stayed unchanged and enjoyed the support of the BA board.

This is the least of all the problems at the Authority. God forbid that every time there is a logistical decision to relocate an office, the employees take to the street. What was really going down at the BA were the reports that Borg Cardona was being bossy and lacked grace in her relations with staff. Of course, nobody ever asked the UHM to stand up and be counted when, for example, Richard Cachia Caruana ran Castille like Stalag 13. Many difficult bosses came and went at various agencies and other government offices.

Let’s forget for a moment that the BA property does have structural, architectural issues. The real issue is the fact that the BA is a relic from the past, because in its current set-up this regulator of broadcasting remains dominated by the two parties, with two party representatives each and a chairman to sweeten the bias. 

It is an authority that chooses to ignore the lack of impartiality that takes place on One TV and NET TV and only focuses on TVM’s news editorial, while not giving a hoot if a radio station’s shock-jocks are regurgitating sexist jokes or playing songs first thing in the morning or before the late-night watershed with mother****** mentioned a dozen times a minute. The BA simply exists to serve the political parties and happens to be overwhelmed with a plethora of new policies from Brussels on broadcasting.

So what hit the headlines instead was Tanya Borg Cardona’s unsophistication in dealing with employee issues.

No one it seems wants to raise the more important matter of how broadcasting policy should move on, how issues of impartiality are not only based on what the political parties wish for but what the general public is entitled to, who difficult it is to raise money for producing good quality programmes… the stark truth is that the BA needs to be reinvented.

Perhaps the new chairman will realise this and carefully thread over the minefield. If he happens to be a man, he will not need to climb up the hill as much as a woman has to. The battle to oust Borg Cardona has been won, but employees might still have to contend with a war against wasteful human resources.

***

Individuals at the Stamperija still cannot fathom why Joseph Muscat retains such a high profile inside the European Union.

Worse still, there seems to be a genuine bond between EC president Jean-Claide Juncker, Council president Donald Tusk and even German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Muscat. More than many in the PN would ever wish for. Some leading members in the EPP know Muscat and do like him and can communicate with him. Those who do not subscribe to being a PL or PN hothead will agree that Muscat has more when it comes to cultivating friendships.

And it is no secret that Muscat is taking advantage of this sentiment for future years.

As Tusk and Muscat were holding a press conference on Brexit, there were those who knew that there was a very important detail at the back of Muscat’s mind. Beyond the reconciliatory but tough talk on Britain’s exit, Muscat was jubilant at the news that numerous British companies are preparing to transfer their business to Malta. The drama and disaster in the UK is a godsend to Malta.

The iGaming and financial services industry is expected to boost growth in 2017 and 2018, and tourism is only on the increase. Much of this growth is organic but it is realisable because of an open door policy.

PN leader Simon Busuttil has talked of those who are left behind, of a zeroing of the deficit at the expense of infrastructure spending and of the plight of pensioners. 

Instead of lambasting government’s surplus, Simon Busuttil could have used his common sense and taken some credit given that it also the result of Malta’s EU membership and the economic achievements of previous PN governments. 

Instead he simply chose to brush it off as a “populist gimmick.”

There is a little bit of truth in what he is saying… if you are not objective and cannot see that most people are seriously doing much better than ever before than before.

True, the government needs to spend more on our infrastructure and on improving environmental standards. Even politics has a deficit when it comes to governance. But the way forward when it comes to the Opposition is not only to tap into people’s uncertainties and perceptions, but also to start thinking of what they can offer better.

Don’t give me the honesty card please. It simply does not stick when it comes from politicians. 

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan is the founder and co-owner of MaltaToday. He has reported on Maltese poli...
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