Right of reply: Imperium Europa and RTK BA fine

Imperium Europa’s right of reply to opinion piece ‘Broadcasting Authority’s Rude Awakening’

Imperium Europa
Imperium Europa

Michael Falzon's opinion reflected in his piece ‘Broadcasting Authority’s Rude Awakening’ is totally uninformed.

Reference is made to the Broadcasting Act.

Article 13 of the Act makes general provisions on broadcasting services and outlines the duties of the authority:

(2) In so far as general interest broadcasting services are concerned and where the Authority allows news and current affairs programmes to be broadcast by such services, it shall be the duty of the Authority to satisfy itself that, so far as possible, the programmes broadcast by any general interest broadcasting service complies with all or any of the following requirements as the Authority may impose in the broadcasting licence, that is to say:

(f) that due impartiality is preserved in respect of matters of political or industrial controversy or relating to current public policy.

Furthermore, Article 34 speaks of unjust and unfair treatment or infringement of privacy:

(1) Without prejudice to all its other powers and functions in accordance with the Constitution, and this Act, the Authority shall have the power and duty to consider complaints of:

(a) unjust or unfair treatment in sound or television programmes broadcast by any person providing broadcasting services in Malta;

In this respect, it has to be noted that Azzopardi's programme is a current affairs programme, hence Article 13 always applies.

Furthermore, Azzopardi could have developed his argument without mentioning Norman Lowell, and in addition, the station refused to broadcast our right of reply.

It has to be said that Norman Lowell was never convicted of racism. The 2013 Lawrence Quintano judgment states that Article 82A of the Criminal Code does not require certainty and that “probability” is enough to prove a breach. Hence one cannot rightfully conclude that Mr Lowell was convicted of racism.

Threatening to ban Mr Lowell, who is the leader of a political party, even during an electoral campaign is an unjust and unfair comment that aims to tarnish his reputation and that of Imperium Europa.

We did not find any provisions in the Broadcasting Act which establish that convicted racists shall be banned from broadcasting.

Article 82A also mentions abusive and intolerant words against a person on the basis of political belief. Azzopardi abused of his position when he decided to mention Mr Lowell and ban him from a current affairs programme that should respect political impartiality.

His comments were discriminatory as well.

Azzopardi's call also means that a person can be prevented from his fundamental right to hold political opinion on the basis of past conviction, which is not the case and which is still not right had it been the case.

Josiah Vella

General Secretary

Imperium Europa