How l-orizzont respects its readers!

These values together with the diffusion of information are the basis for fostering and nurturing the people’s trust in the film industry.’

Film Commissioner Johann Grech
Film Commissioner Johann Grech

In the last few days, we had two fine examples of the short-sightedness of the GWU’s published media - the story of the fake story planted abroad about Chris Fearne and Carmen Ciantar and the President’s speech at the Mediterrane Film Festival.

On Tuesday, the printed media - except l-orizzont - reported the story uncovered by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) that Steward had paid for a false smear campaign against then health minister Chris Fearne and his former chief of staff, Carmen Ciantar.

If l-orizzont is to be believed, a reporter of theirs coincidentally met the Prime Minister outside Parliament and the PM just told this reporter that he has full confidence in Chris Fearne. The editor of the GWU daily somehow concluded that these trite comments were worthy of the front-page, as the most important story in that day’s issue of the paper.

On its own, this looks silly. I wonder what the faithful Labour reader thought about it because this story was, in fact, a reaction to the OCCRP story, which had been ignored by l-orizzont up to then. To understand the raison d’etre of the Prime Minister’s message one had to read the other papers! A veritable case of ‘ħawwadni ħa nifhmek’!

The same space in the paper’s Thursday issue was dedicated to Carmen Ciantar who explained the travails she and her daughter had suffered as a result of the machinations - targeted at her and Chris Fearne - that were never reported in l-orizzont in the first place. In my opinion, this sort of scheming that seems to be a regular characteristic of l-orizzont is an insult to the paper’s readers.

It is incredible that the paper’s editor does not realise this.

The report in l-orizzont of the President’s speech at the Mediterrane Film Festival was limited to two short paragraphs outlining the importance of the film making niche in our economy. I say ‘niche’ because I don’t think this sector can become one of the pillars of the Maltese economy, as the President was quoted as saying.

But the President’s speech was also censored by l-orizzont. Which part was not reported? The part in which she urged the Malta Film Commission and the Film Commissioner to respect the principles of accountability and good governance in order to foster the public’s trust in their operations.

The President referred to this year’s budget of €39.8 million for the film industry and added: ‘I emphasise that this is the people’s money. Accountability and transparency cannot be underestimated. These values together with the diffusion of information are the basis for fostering and nurturing the people’s trust in the film industry.’

Kudos for the President!

Johann’s antics

I bet Johann Grech, the Film Commissioner did not like what the President said about accountability. But he doesn’t care because he acts as if he thinks he is unassailable.

He keeps insisting that Malta should be proud about the growth in its film industry that now has ‘a strong track record all year round’ providing more opportunities for the professional development of crews tasked with the projects.

On Friday, l-orizzont reported that just a few days after the Mediterrane Film Festival, there was a tangible increase in interest by foreigners considering filming in Malta. That is how Johann’s magic wand works, I suppose!

He sees growth where - judging by statistics – there is hardly any.

The growth is only in Johann’s expenditure!

He knows it all and insists that his expenditure of the people’s money should not be questioned.

His attitude has already provoked several adverse reactions, including those of the Auditor General.

In a joint statement, the Malta Producers' Association (MPA) and Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association (MEIA) said that taxpayers spent almost €8 million on two film festivals, while local producers have been unable to access any government funding.

They remarked that the Mediterranee Film Festival ended with a lavish gala, during which Malta Film Commissioner Johann Grech pompously proclaimed that ‘the growth of film making in Malta has paralleled the growth of Malta as a nation’.

However, they added that ‘the conspicuous lack of Maltese films indicates that the success being lauded isn’t quite there.’ On its part the Malta Film Commission (MFC) noted that last year's festival, and ‘the promising’ feedback from this year's edition, underscored its confidence in its role of attracting investment.

According to Johann Grech, last year Malta achieved a ‘record’ level of investment in its film history, beating the previous year’s record, generating jobs and tens of millions of euros in direct and indirect benefits.

But, as everybody knows, the way the consultants for the Film Commission calculate the number of jobs and the income generated by the film industry in Malta, is - to say the least - over the top.

Labour landslide

Britain voted last Thursday after an electoral campaign that featured the same ingredients as other elections across Europe and the Americas: frustrated voters eager to reject the status quo, a deeply discredited government and a dash of populism.

While the electorates in other countries are shifting to the right, British voters evicted the Conservative-led government after 14 years, in favour of the centre-left Labour Party in what is being described as a historic landslide, even though the actual increase of votes for Labour was less than 3%, most of it in Scotland. A number of Tory personalities, including Jacob Rees-Mogg and Liz Truss - the short-lived Prime Minister - lost their seats.

Such is the fickleness of Britain’s electoral system!

As always, it is governments that lose elections not Oppositions that win them!

The Conservatives have presided over a tumultuous era that began with David Cameron in 2010. It included harsh budget cuts after the financial crisis of 2008; the Brexit vote of 2016; the Covid pandemic; and a revolving door of prime ministers.

Eight years after the Brexit vote, Britain is an isolated country with severely reduced economic growth, a health system on the verge of suffocation and Northern Ireland on the road to secession.

Will Britain now renegotiate its relationship with the EU and replicate the Norwegian model in which they would have to contribute to the EU budget without having any say on how their money is spent?