Balancing things out | Joanne Spiteri

The Broadcasting Authority is embarking on an initiative to radically improve the quality of output on Maltese radio and television stations. CEO Dr Joanna Spiteri outlines the major challenges ahead

The BA was originally set up in 1961 to (among other things) ensure “due impartiality in respect of matters of political or industrial controversy or relating to current public policy”. The early 1960s was a time of great political turmoil in Malta; and while the issues have changed, the polarity of Maltese politics remains largely the same.  Yet surely, broadcasting is about much more than just politics. Do you yourself view the authority’s role in those terms?

Probably, the perception of many people is that the Broadcasting Authority deals only with impartiality; and even then, ‘impartiality’ only in political content. But there is, as you say, much more to it than that. Politics is not the only other area where impartiality is needed; and, as per the Broadcasting Act and other legislation, there are other remits beyond ensuring impartiality in broadcasting… such as the portrayal of vulnerable groups, of minors, or people with disabilities, and so on.

There is a social dimension which the authority also tackles.  One example of this is how tragedies are reported in the news: whether there is sensitivity towards family and loved ones, or whether the event is sensationalized, etc. Meanwhile there are also other aspects that are not listed in the Act, because they are very subjective. For instance, one area we are trying to concentrate on is quality in broadcasting: because we are seeing that, given the number of television and radio stations, the quality might not be of the highest level. In many cases, I am sorry to say that quality levels are very, very low.

Read the full interview in MaltaToday's Digital Edition