PBS employing former One employees in bid to control news reporting – Puli

Opposition MP Clyde Puli accuses PBS of bias and lack of judgement in its news coverage and reports; questions broadcaster’s reasons for dropping popular programmes in new schedule

PBS news coverage questioned by opposition
PBS news coverage questioned by opposition

25 people, all former One employees or Labour Party sympathisers, had been employed by PBS, in a further effort by the government to gain full control of the national broadcaster and its newsroom, according to opposition MP Clyde Puli.

The Nationalist Party spokesman, who was speaking in parliament on the 2017 budget estimates for the ministry of justice, culture and local government, said that PBS employees now numbered close to the same levels that had been employed before the restructuring process.

Puli said that TVM’s news coverage had become so biased that he wondered whether Reno Bugeja still decied what was reported.

“Does Reno Bugeja decide, or is Castille controlling what is reported?” he asked.

Puli criticised the fact that another former one employee, Owen Galea, had been appointed head of TVM’s online news portal.

“But when Alfred Sant admitted publicly that he would have resigned if he had been involved in the Panama Papers scandal, TVM news portal failed to report it,” he said.

“We were later told that they did so because Alfred Sant’s statement had been reported on Facebook, but this never stopped PBS from reporting other, less important news, that had been posted on Facebook.”

Puli also questioned PBS’s impartiality and judgement when it had axed popular programmes Times Talk and Madwarna, and turned down an application by The Malta Independent to host a discussion programme.

“Was it because The Times had investigated and reported on the Gaffarena scandal that they had their TVM programme discontinued?” he said. “And was The Malta Independent being punished for its investigation into the Panama Papers scandal?”

Puli said that in a further mockery of news value, the TVM news portal failed to carry a speech by Archbishop Charles Scicluna on corruption, but had chosen to feature an article on the identity of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s father.

Minister's rebuttal

IN his concluding statements, minister Owen Bonnici criticised Puli for targeting individuals in his attack on the PBS, including the head of the TVM news portal. He denied any bias or censorship in the broadcaster's news coverage, saying he was amazed that Puli could accuse PBS of censoring the archbishop when it was the station that gave more airtime to Mons Scicluna than any other station.

"The opposition said TVM had become know as Super Two, but instead I think the opposition itself is a Super Zero," he claimed.