BA’s media blackout not what we wanted, says PN leader on ‘partisan’ complaint

After PN complaint that provoked BA blackout of journalists’ questions on TVM public health press conferences, Adrian Delia demands reform of public broadcasting

Adrian Delia
Adrian Delia

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia said he did not agree with the regulator’s decision to censor questions from journalists during COVID-19 press conferences broadcast on the national station TV, despite his party having filed the complaint.

The Broadcasting Authority’s decision came in a bid to prevent any “partisan” replies provoked by questions from journalists, after the PN complained about Prime Minister Robert Abela’s “partisan” answers to questions.

The BA decision provoked outrage from Malta’s body of journalists.

But Delia had little to say about the irony of Malta’s political parties owning their own TV newsrooms and deploying journalists as party agents, while also having two representatives appointed to the Broadcasting Authority itself.

“It has to be a total reform,” he said, saying the PN wanted to see a new regulator that would be truly impartial and represented by a wide range of institutional stakeholders.

“We want a system of public broadcasting that is totally autonomous, regulated by a BA that is truly independent, competent and serious, with a chairman and panel appointed by two-thirds of the House, and a broadcaster that truly gives space to all voices and opinions.”

Delia accused Abela of having mandated a “partisan blackout” to censor journalists and other voices, through the political imbalance he created.

“Although we filed this complaint, we cannot agree with this decision,” Delia said, accusing Labour of having captured national broadcasting and turning it into a political platform.

“This is part of the culture of impunity when Labour is in power…. Instead of a national broadcasting that informs and educates, it has turned into a platform for his party.”

Delia also rued the removal of Xarabank from its Friday night slot on TVM, saying the 23-year-old show had been a platform that gave ample room to all political parties, stakeholders, and which had suffered boycotts and other underhand attacks from Labour.

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