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John Bundy faced two sexual harassment claims while at PBS

The former PBS chief executive officer has denied the sexual harassment claims

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
19 November 2017, 9:41am
Former PBS CEO John Bundy
Former PBS CEO John Bundy
The former CEO of the Public Broadcasting Services, John Bundy, has faced allegations of sexual harassment by staff, although one report was later withdrawn.

MaltaToday is informed that John Bundy has denied any such allegations when confronted, but he did not reply to a written request for comment yesterday by this newspaper.

Bundy was sacked from the job after a €500,000 car lease deal he brokered was found in breach of procurement rules by the broadcaster’s auditor.

But more details about the veteran TV presenter are surfacing since his dismissal.

At least two cases of sexual harassment have transpired against Bundy since reports of his clash with PBS directors made headlines.

In the first case, a member of the PBS secretarial staff filed a written complaint which was, however, later withdrawn. The woman informed the board that she did not want to proceed with the report due to personal and family reasons.

No action was taken on this case.

In the second case, the complainant approached a senior government official as well as having spo ken of the harassment with other PBS staff and presenters.

MaltaToday is informed that in this case, a government official asked Bundy to explain his position. Again, while no action was taken on the harassment charge, MaltaToday has learnt that the victim – a make-up artist – was later replaced by another make-up artist.

Earlier this week, Bundy told The Malta Independent that he would consider legal action against the PBS board of directors for his dismissal.

Tension had been riding high with the board of directors since the first days of his appointment – which happened without any public call. In one of several clashes Bundy had with the PBS board, on 16 August a meeting with the CEO ended in a shouting match when the directors complained with Bundy for finalising the TVM programme schedule without their knowledge.

Bundy was told that he had included two drama productions by Pierre Portelli – formerly the Malta Independent director who has now taken the helm of PN media arm Media.Link – namely Hobbni Int and Tereza.

The board pointed out that the contract with Portelli for Hobbni Int had been signed before May 2017 when the schedule was still being drawn up and as yet not finalised. An internal email with draft schedules also showed Bundy had included Tereza, which at the time was being screened on One TV, the Labour Party’s television channel.

Confronted by the board members, Bundy was also taken to task for allegedly recording the board meeting, and instructed to desist from recording such meetings.

Last week, MaltaToday also reported that Bundy had been instructed not to enter the office of PBS chairman Tonio Portughese without prior consent. But CCTV footage of one such unauthorised entry, to consult documents and staff contracts, appears to have been blacked out when the CCTV was obscured with a piece of paper.

Right of reply from Pierre Portelli of Watermelon Productions

Reference is made to a story published in the Sunday edition of MaltaToday and on the online version titled: ‘John Bundy faced two sexual harassment claims while at PBS’. The story makes untrue statements in my regard as former director of Watermelon Media.

It is categorically not true that a contract for the drama series Ħobbni Ftit (incorrectly referred to Ħobbni Int in your article) was signed between Bundy on behalf of PBS Ltd and Watermelon Media Ltd prior to the board’s confirmation of the TVM schedule. The contract for the drama series Ħobbni Ftit was signed in September 2017, contrary to the impression given in your article.

Watermelon Media tendered its proposals under the Public Statement Intent issued by PBS in January 2017 and was signaled a go-ahead for production to commence in June 2017 with all other producers.

On the 20th August PBS informed Watermelon Media and another production house that it would be shifting two of its drama series to late-viewing (22:00) in order to promote the current affairs programmes Xtra presented by MaltaToday’s shareholder Saviour Balzan and Dissett presented by TVM’s Head of News Reno Bugeja.

Since this sudden change of heart, only one month away from going on air, impacted negatively both in commercial terms and in viewership, Watermelon Media met the Chairman, the deputy chairman and PBS’ advocate to discuss the impact of such a sudden change of heart.

All drama series produced by Watermelon Media during the past years have been engaged on a joint venture basis and PBS enjoys 50% of the profits registered in all of these productions. Following these discussions, in which Bundy was not involved, the Board of Directors took the sensible decision to retain both drama series in prime-time. However, while Ħobbni Ftit retained its Tuesday slot followed by Dissett, the other drama series was shifted to Sunday while Saviour Balzan’s Xtra occupied the prime-time slot on Thursday.

As to the reference in your article to another drama series produced by Watermelon Media: Tereża, it cannot be the case that Bundy presented this option to the board because Watermelon Media was informed by its Head of Programmes in April 2017 that PBS will not take a programme that was originally airing on ONE TV. Watermelon Media had explained to PBS that ONE TV had refused the third season of the popular soap-opera Tereża but PBS still refused to enter a joint venture with Watermelon Media. The case was closed and never again considered by Watermelon Media.

Pierre Portelli,

former director

Watermelon Media Ltd

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.