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Labour accuses PBS head of news of ‘directing political imbalance’

PBS accuses Gino Cauchi of manipulating data and says Labour campaign is result of dwindling advertising revenues for One TV.

Matthew Vella
15 June 2012, 12:00am
PBS head of news Natalino Fenech (left) interviews Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi. PBS said Gonzi featured in less news features than Labour leader Joseph Muscat.
Labour MP Gino Cauchi has accused the Public Broadcasting Services head of news Natalino Fenech of presiding over a deliberate campaign of broadcasting imbalance against the Labour party.

Cauchi, a former TVM news anchor, pointing fingers at Fenech, as well PBS chief executive Anton Attard and the board of directors and editorial board, of having used public broadcasting to shore up the government between January and March, specifically when talk of early elections was prompted by the Franco Debono crisis.

Cauchi singled out breakfast show TVAM as having invited more government ministers throughout the first three months of 2012, without an Opposition counterpart, saying the effect was to prop up the government during its internal troubles.

"I am not passing judgment on the presenters of the programme... because everything that happens in PBS, especially when it comes to the guests that are featured, must carry the stamp of approval of Natalino Fenech," Cauchi said.

In statistics he presented from parliamentary questions, Cauchi said the national broadcaster featured 86 programmes between October 2011 and April 2012 where ministers, parliamentary secretaries and Nationalist MPs were invited, compared to 56 in which Labour MPs were invited. 33 of these programmes featured PN exponents alone.

Cauchi said that between October and May, 24 news services featured on the PBS news bulletin included comments by the Prime Minister as against 18 that featured comments from the Opposition leader. Additionally, there were 97 news services with comments from government ministers, as against 10 where Labour MPs' comments were taken.

"But the largest discrepancies were registered in the first three months of the year, and this was when the speculation over early elections was at its loudest. It confirms that PBS was being used as a tool in the upcoming electoral campaign to unashamedly bolster GonziPN," Cauchi said.

Cauchi also said PBS news reports often neglected to report political replies from the Opposition to government statements, citing as an example a recent press report on the issue of university stipends.

"While Joseph Muscat's statement that stipends would be left untouched was not the main angle of the news bulletin that reported his speech, Lawrence Gonzi's declaration that stipends were guaranteed were given main attention without Muscat's own statement," Cauchi said.

The MP was taken to task by the manager for Friday primetime show Xarabank, Norman Vella, over statistics that presented an incorrect picture of the programme's guests. Referring to reports by General Workers Union daily l-orizzont, Vella argued that there were cases in which Labour MPs sent their political aides to appear in their stead, but the PQs referred to by Cauchi only featured specific appearances by government ministers and their Opposition counterparts.



On its part, PBS issued a statement expressing concern at the "campaign" directed at the national broadcaster.

"In 1997, the TVM news bulletins were dominated by reports on the Labour government... between January-May 2012, Labour MPs featured in 200 news items while Joseph Muscat appeared 107 times in these reports, while the prime minister appeared in sixteen features less.

"Statistics from the Broadcasting Authority shows that in 1997, TVM broadcast an average 183 news stories every month over six daily bulletins, dealing with news concerning the then-Labour government. Today, the average is 34 stories featuring government news, or just over one story every day."

PBS also denied ignoring Opposition statements, and said it only reported such replies to the Sunday political activities when they concern a state of fact and not simply a rehashed political comment.

PBS accused Labour of manipulating the data which was provided in a parliamentary question from information supplied by the Broadcasting Authority - specifically having been asked for information on the number of MPs featured in TVM programmes. "Labour is quoting data that does not reflect the vast majority of Labour exponents sent by the party as TV guests," the station said, referring to non-parliamentary figures and other political candidates.

PBS reiterated the precise example provided by Xarabank's Norman Vella earlier in the day during Cauchi's press conference, saying Labour deputy leader Anglu Farrugia had been officially invited to Xarabank but instead sent a political candidate to represent the party.

"This manipulation is unacceptable... PBS believes Labour's campaign has nothing to do with imbalance but with the audiences that TVM commands and its ill-effects on advertising revenues for the party's TV station. PBS's audience has recently doubled and its viewership of its news bulletins is three times the size of One News's bulletin."

Matthew Vella is editor of MaltaToday.com.mt.

After graduating in a...
Mark Borg
@Giovanni Demartino. Ikkalma ftit Demartino. Dan it-tbaqbieq m'ghandekx xi tridu fl-eta' tieghek. Tahlix sahtek minn issa meta ghandek elezzjoni generali quddiemek... baghaghlek x'titbaqbaq mhux hazin. Bejn CUCUN u PURCINELL nippreferi CUCUN ghax ta' l-anqas ma ndahhakx in-nies bija! Viva Gonzi. Viva GonziPN.
gIOVANN DeMartino
Prosit Alwilden. M'intix injorant bhal xi whud. Indunajt li mieghi battalja kompletament mitlufa. Mhux ghax jien gharef. Xejn minn dan, imma li tipparaguna l-passat superoxxenissmu tal-MLP mas-sitwazzjoni prezenti......La int u ebda proxxmu m'ghandu cans mal-FATTI li nesmmi jien. Se taghmel sewwa se titlaq ghax min jipparaguna l-passat mal-prezent ikun qed jaqa ghar-ridikolu.
Stephen Ferrante
Ma kienx fi hsiebni nirrispondik Sur Demartino, mhux ghax ghandek ragun f'dak li qed tghid, ghax l-izbilanc illum huwa wiehed sottili. qabel kien bil-miftuh illum sottili, imma xorta zbilanc jibqa ,minkejja dak kollu li tghid int. Ma kienx fi hsiebni nirrispondi ghax mieghek inutli. Int qisek bil-blinkers taz-zwiemel u jekk GonziPn jaghmel hoss tghid kemm tfuh. Ma tirragunax man. Int ghalik dak li hu hazin la jaghmlu GonziPN isir tajjeb, ara kieku Joseph Muscat jaghmel it-tajjeb ghalik isir hazin. Jiddispjacini ghalik. M'għandix zmien x'nahli mieghek.
Toninu
@bond4711. Le habib kont diga ragel mizzeweg u le ma insejtx.Ghandek ragun li ma hemmx paragun. Illum hafna aktar fini u sottili u aktar effetivi ghax il-PBS inhakem minn l-klikka li semma Franco Debono, u li s'issa hadd ma hareg imerih.
gIOVANN DeMartino
Kemm jiehu pjacir jaqa' ghac-cajt ghogos 7. Fhimtu xi haga intom? jien dejjem nghid li l-Maltin m'hawx aqwa minnhom, imma ghgorgos7 huwa ezempju perfett tac-cuc Malti. CUCUN, anzi.
Mark Borg
Marridx nahli aktar hin fuq Giovanni Demartino u l-zmien tad-dlam li ghadu jghix fih. Jahseb li hu bravu hafna. Demartino mhux 'cuc Malti' izda 'bravu ta' GonziPN'. Ahna ilkoll huma 'cwiec Maltin'. Kien hemm zmien meta konna nahsbu li l-purcinelli jinsabu fic-cirkli biss. B'Demartino mas-saqajn se jkollna nbiddlu din l-opinjoni. Viva Gonzi! Viba GonziPN!
Peter Bbarbara
@Toninu Jew kont ghadek ma twelidx dak iz-zmien habib jew...insejt. Lanqas hemm paragun ...lanqas tista tibda !
Peter Bbarbara
Wiehed irid ikun vera ma jisthi minn xejn u minn hadd biex jitkellem fuq zbilanc issa...jiddispjacini imma l-izbilanc bla limitu u organizzat u dittattorjali li niftakar jien qatt ma rajtu imkien iktar.
gIOVANN DeMartino
Alwilden dabbar rasu. And fools rushed in. Imsieken.
Toninu
Jekk nasal biex nemmen li illum il PBS mhuwiex ghodda a favur Gonzi PN, allura nasal biex nemmen li l-iljunfanti itiru. Sirt nitfixxkel fuq liema stazzjon qieghed it-TV jekk hux NET jew PBS. Qieshom tewmin identici. U minn isemmi li fil passat kien isir hekk wkoll qed jammetti l-falliment tal PN li f'25 sena ma irnexxielhux ( jew ma iridx ) jirranga ix-xandir ta l-istat.
Vincent Camilleri
Sur Demartino jekk se tibqa imwahhal mal-passat, ma tasal imkien. L-oxxenitajiet li qed isiru illum fuq ix-xandir ta l-Istat huma hafna aktar gravi minn dawk li thobb issemmi int mill-Laburisti tletin sena ilu. Taf ghaliex? GHaliex wara kwazi tletin sena ta tmexxija Nazzjonalista fejn xbajna nisimghu kemm id-demokrazija hadet ir-ruh u kemm il-liberta tal-kelma issahhet f'pajjizna illum ghandna Xandir ta l-istat iddominat minn attivisti Nazzjonalisti - thallinix insemmi ismijiet ghaliex nimlilek pagna. Insomm f'kelma wahda ix-xandir ta l-istat ma ghandu xejn ahjar minn xandir pubbliku fi stat totalitarju u dittatorjali. Dan jafu kullhadd minbarra int.
Christian Thorn
U bir-ragun - ghamluh ir- Regim taghhom tel-WE? bil pappagalli taghhom bil-barka ta' Anton Attard b'kamra ta' l'ahbarijiet manipulata sew minn Natalino Fenech u b'VIZJONI wahda li GONZIPN jibqa' igranfat mas-siggu tal-poter!
Tony Fenech
Bilfors il-lejburisti jaraw l-izbilanc. Ghax issa zmienhom, dawn, hlief nies intesserati min tal maduma mhemmx. Malta veru mandra ta' Xandir. Fi zmienhom dawn hlief jsemmu l-isem tal-mexxej GonziPN , u juruh il hin kollu. Fi zmienhom is-signature tune issa saret Gvern jimxi fuq ir-rubini u hlief nisimaw gideb u tifhir li saru imcappsa ma' liskrin il hin kollu. Kemm jifilhu jkunu IPOKRITI. Interpretajt il kliem ta Giovanni De Martino ghax hekk missu qal il-verita.
Francis Chircop
Is-sabiha mhux dik. L-ewwel akkuzaw lill- Joseph li falla finanzjarjament lill-Izlanda ghax kien ta' parir ma tidholx fl-EU. Tiftakru? U mbaghad nghid jien L- Grecja u Spanja mhux fl-EU qeghdin. Dawn min fallihom? Min kien taghhom parir biex jidhlu. Gerfixni ha nifmhek. Ipokresija A1. Jekk minghalikhom li l- poplu Malti bahnan ser jarralkhom.
peppi x
One should not measure the imbalance of the Public Broadcasting Services just by comparing the number of appearances on TV of members of both sides but what really counts is the way that news are presented, the slant given to this news, what is left out, comments made, the difference of treatment of personalities from the Government and Opposition by presenters, interviewers etc, and much and much more.
eddy privitera
Giovann DeMartino, ruhi, KIEKU NIBQGHU INSEMMU L-ANTIK. ALLURA RRIDU NSEMMU WKOLL LI L-PN KIEN JIRCIIEVI L-FLUS MILL-PARTIT FAXXISTA TA' MUSSOLINI. IL-MEZZ UZAT KIENU RIKLAMI MHALLSA FIL-GURNAL TAL-PN ! INKUNU RRIDU NSEMMU LI NERIK MIZZI KIEN KITEB LILL-GVERN INGLIZ FEJN QALLU LI JKUN HAZIN JEKK JINGHATA L-VOT LIN-NISA ! INKUNU NRIDU NFAKKRU LI BIEX JIRBAH L-ELEZZJONI KONTRA L-PARTIT TA' LORD STRICKLAND, IL-PN KIEN QABBAD SAKRANAZ, ETTORE BONO, MAGHRUF BHALA TERINU, BIEX JIEHU GURAMENT LI RA LIL STRICKLAND F'LOGGJA TAL-MAZUNI. U L-AFFIDAVIT TIEGHU TQASSAM FUQ IZ-ZUNTIERI TAL-KNEJJES KOLLHA F'MALTA U GHAWDEX ! INKUNU RRIDU NFAKKRUK, LI L-PN KIEN KONTRA L-VOT LIZ-ZAGHZAGH TA' 18 IL-SENA. U NISTA NIBQA SEJJER U MA NISPICCA QATT, KEMM AKTAR GHANDKHOM INTHOM TA' GONZIPN BIEX TISTHU MILL-PASSAT TAL-PARTIT TAGHKHOM IMMA HALLI NIGI GHAL -PREZENT: BHAL MA GHIDTILNA, LI KULLHADD QED JIFGA FIL-GID, QATT MORT TGHODD DAWK LI QED IMORRU FIL-KJU TAL-VICTORY KITCHEN TAL-UE, BIEX JINGHATAW XI AFFARIJIET TAL-IKEL B'XEJN ??? DAWK UKOLL QEGHDIN JIFGAW FIL-GID ???????????
joe xerri
Barra l ahbarijiet tat tvm hemm l ahbarijiet tar radio 91.7 fm l istess forma ta radio 101, iqallawk, keazi qatt ma jissemma il partit laburista, propoganda irhisa favur il gvern stil faxxista. Thallsux iktar licenzji.
Mario Attard
In my opinion the PBS which is a Public paid entity should be run by a balanced panel, i.e. reps from all political parties and should under the Authority of the President. The President of Malta should also be chosen by the people and not chosen by those who have their interest at heart, i.e the Members of Parliament. Xarabank and Bondi plus are 2 bias programs. One should listen carefully the questions asked to the party reoresantatives present. Interpretation of for example statistics issued say by NSO. Two says it pure white, other says it completly black. News are given completely different dimension by different TV stations. One of the most balanced program is "Crossroads"
fufa
Tistennew xejn inqas min Natalino Fenech u 'the likes' ghax dawn qeghdin ippappuwa tajjeb hafna u se jaghmlu minn kollox biex minn hemmhekk ma jitharrkux. "Hold tight" u ggranfa sew. Dik il-motto taghhom, gejja mill-kap innifsu u fuq l-ezempju tieghu stess. Sur De martino s-snin 70 issa storja. Jekk ma tafx ghaddew iktar min 40 sena u jien ma niftakarhomx. Veru ghandek in-nostalgija imma meta tkunu daharkom mal-hajt tmorrux lura wisq ghax tkunu qed tammettu li qeghdin fl-izball. It-tghajjir tad-dirigenti tal-PBS li l-PL qed jilmentaw ghax naqas ir-reklamar fuq One huwa prova ohra cara li l-PL ghandu ragun fil-kritika tieghu.
gIOVANN DeMartino
@Alwilden. Mhux dejjem trid temmen dak li jinghad, anqas minn Franco Debono, of all people. Sant qal li Mintoff traditur. Allura se nemmnuh? Mintoff qal li l-MLP tilef ir-ruh socjali tieghu Allura se nemmnuh? Il-Qorti wahhlet mkulta lil min ipparaguna lil xi hadd ma' Lorry Sant. Allura se nemmnu li dan kien korrott? Two wrongs do not make a right. Kulhadd jikkwotaha din META JAQBILLU. Min irid jithaddet id-dritt ma jista' jaghmel assolutament EBDA paragun bejn il-mandra li kien il-PBS qabel u issa. Immagina llum tpoggi l-bandiera tal-PN fuq l-iskrin, immagina ministru llum jghid li x-xandir irid jaghmel lil Malta socjalista. U ndoqqu r-Run, rabbit, run. Kien hemm zmien meta l-istazzjon inghata KOMPLETAMENT lill-MLP. Il-PN ma kienx jezisti. Isem EFA ma kienx jissemma. Meta l-marmalja harqet il-kazin tal-PN il-PBS xandar li kienu l-PN li attakkaw il-kazin tal-MLP. Jekk ghandha ssir xi cahda din mhux mill-PN trid issir, imma mill-PBS. U cahda KIen hemm. L-ewwel ma trid tikber huwa int, u huwa int li trid tghid dak li verament hu. Anqas biss HOLMA ta' paragun ma hemm. U dan tafu int u jafu kulhadd, imma l-policy tal-lejber dejjem hekk kienet: jeqred, jikkritika, ixewwex....xi haga jiehu.
Anthony Grech
Sur Giovanni Demartino. L-izbilanc mhux il-Lejburisti biss jarawh, izda anke MEMBRI PARLAMENTARI ta' Gonzipn. Insejt x'qal L-Onorevoli Dr. Franco Debono MP, Gonzipn? Donnu int u tal-PBS biss ma tarawx l-izbilanc. Tghid ghax xi hadd hu komdu b'dawn il-hnizrijet rieha ta' Maghatab? Jew forsi il-vapur qieghed fil-periklu u l-kaptan ordna lill-kullhadd inkluz lilek Sur Komdu, biex 'NIPPUMPJAW FORSI NSALVAW'?
Paul Schembri
Sur Demartino Ma min rajtek xebahtek ovjament tal Klikka Gonzi pn
salgister
@Demartino. L-istess kummenti li ghamilt fit-Times. Wegibtek, imma tat-Times dehrilhom li m'ghandhomx igibu l-kummenti tieghi. Dik id-demokrazija li tiftahar biha, Sur Demartino. Taf li minn ghaxar kummenti li nibghat lit-Times Online gieli ma ggiblix wiehed. Sal-lum stess. Imbaghad tigi tghid x'gara fin-1981. Mela ha nfakkrek jien ezatt x'gara fin-1981 u nghidlek li m'intix tghid il-verita flok nghidlek kelma ohra. Il-kummenti tieghu huma kollha nofs verita! Vera li Xandir Malta ghamlet zmien ma ssemmix il-Kap ta' l-Oppozizzjoni ta' dak iz-zmien b'ismu. Imma taf kemm damet. Tliet ijiem biss. Kif titkellmu intom, tahseb li kienet ilha sejjer ix-xhur jekk mhux is-snin. Dwar is-signature tune "Run Rabbit Run". Gidba ohra minn tieghek, jew inkella tikxef l-injoranza. Dik indaqqet meta hareg ir-rizultat ta' l-elezzjoni fi 12 ta' Dicembru bil-lejl u akkumpanjata mill-emblema tal-Partit Laburista. Kemm tiflah tigdeb sur Demartino! Illum qeghdin aghar milli konna fit-tmenijiet, ghax barra li hemm zbilanc kbir fil-media, hemm censura wkoll. Bhalma diga ghidtlek, fit-Times Online qeghdin iservu ta' gatekeepers tal-Gvern, li ma mmorrux inhammrulu wiccu.
Dora Buttigieg
Proof of how weak democracy is in Malta. Can anyone believe that this is 2012 with Malta in the EU, because it appears much worse than Malta was under Mintoff in the 1970's
Stephen Ferrante
Is sur Demartino donnu nesa li wiehed minn tahhom stess l-Onor. Franco Debono ikkritika ghal-bosta drabi x-xadir tal-istat bil-qawwa kollha u stqarr li llum ix-xandir hu ghar miz-zmien li qed isemmi s-sur Demartino. Jew dak li jghid Franco Debono ma jghoddx, ghax dak mhux tal-labour. Wara kollox qatt ma smajna xi cahda minn naha ta' GonziPn dwar dan. U ejja nghidu li dak iz-zmien kien isir hazin, u veru li kien isir hazin, allur biex nibdlu dak il-hazin jew nikkoreguh naghmlu bhalu jew ghar minnu Sur Demartino? Nahseb bhali dejjem tghallimt li zewg affarijiet hziena ma jaghmlux haga tajba! Ejjew nikbru ftit f'dan il-pajjiz u dak li hu iswed jaghhmlu min jaghmlu nghidulu iswed, ghax se nibqghu pajjiz tal-mickey mouse
Pat Muscat
The order given to PBS for its news is the buzzword: xoghol., xoghol fil-ghodu u fil-ghaxija. Anqas jisthu l-istess headlines tan-Net News...u l-istess entuzzjazmu bhal tal-PBS News. Igibulna biss l-istatistika li jaqbel; Grecja niezla u Spanja tiela: Estonja, Lithuania,Germanja, Finlandj, Sweden, Luxumburg, Bulgaria u Austria...kollha growth ahjar min taghna ma jezistux! Ministri, u Prim Ministri tiela u niezel!
Pat Muscat
The order given to PBS for its news is the buzzword: xoghol., xoghol fil-ghodu u fil-ghaxija. Anqas jisthu l-istess headlines tan-Net News...u l-istess entuzzjazmu bhal tal-PBS News. Igibulna biss l-istatistika li jaqbel; Grecja niezla u Spanja tiela: Estonja, Lithuania,Germanja, Finlandj, Sweden, Luxumburg, Bulgaria u Austria...kollha growth ahjar min taghna ma jezistux! Ministri, u Prim Ministri tiela u niezel!
Toninu
Il-PBS illum huwa ghar minn zmien Toni Pellegrini, tal misthija. Franco Debono ghamel din id-dikjarazzjoni din is-sena fil Parlament. Ma smajt l-ebda cahda mil PBS ghal din l-akkuza.
gIOVANN DeMartino
Bilfors il-lejburisti jaraw l-izbilanc. Ghax fi zmienhom, dawn, Dardir Malta ma kienx veru mandra ta' Xandir. Fi zmienhom dawn anqas l-isem tal-mexxej tal-maggoranza assoluta ma kienu jsemmu. Fi zmienhom is-signature tune kienet Run rabbit run u konna naraw l-arma tal*MLP imcappsa ma' liskrin. kemm jifilhu jkunu IPOKRITI.
godwin scerri
thalsux il licenzja, ghax pbs stazjon politiku net2, mhux stazjon nazjonali.PBS's audience has recently doubled and its viewership of its news bulletins is three times the size of One News's bulletin." JIEN ZGUR LI MINIX WIEHED MINHOM.
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