Public broadcaster to receive €30 million over five years to create non-commercial content

OPM Minister Carmelo Abela says that PBS should serve as a platform for talented and creative people to 'continue to grow and produce high-quality content'

OPM Minister Carmelo Abela
OPM Minister Carmelo Abela

The national broadcaster will see its budget increase by €30 million over five years to create content that is not purely of a commercial nature, OPM Minister Carmelo Abela said.

“Today we have come together, to discuss the obligation of public broadcasters; to discuss how a balance can be struck between quality, public obligations and the commercial aspect; the potential to create content with an international appeal both for foreigners living among us, as well as the Maltese,” Abela said at a seminar for stakeholders in the industry.

Abela said the programme statement of intent was currently the tool used by PBS to invite interested parties who wish to provide content to one of the company’s television radio station. “When we launched the PSI for the year 2020-2021, I had announced several changes made to the document. These were aimed at providing more clarity and transparency to tenderers,” Abela said.

Abela emphasised his desire for the PSI to be further renewed and for the PSI for 2021-2022 to be released as early as possible to give the industry enough time to plan its bid.

Abela said he will continue to insist, as he has always done, that PBS followed a line that is independent and that fulfils its role as a national broadcaster.

“At the same time, I believe that PBS’s public service obligation should be extended to serve as a platform for talented and creative people to continue to grow and produce high-quality content,” he said.

“I want to see content that reflects the society we live in, but at the same time I want to see content that inspires our youth to achieve great things and that entertains those who watch and follow the programmes broadcast on PBS stations,” Abela said.  

PBS Chairperson Carmen Sammut said the state broadcaster was beholden to the public unlike other media portals run by private companies. “The role PBS plays in the community is special and should be nurtured,” Sammut said.

Sammut said that PBS must be able to grab the attention of its audiences and leave them content. “PBS’s mission reflects something beyond just politics - it is more complex. It reflects the identity and reality of our population," she said.

Sammut said that stakeholders needed to reflect on the ever-changing landscape of the media – which is becoming more personalised and moving further online.

Speaking remotely, Noel Curran from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said that while the world has been plunged into a pandemic – it gave public service media a chance to shine.

“During 2020 we saw young audiences turn to public broadcasters like never before. We saw audiences turn to public service media, to media that they can trust,” Curran said.

He said that public broadcasters across the EU had helped to teach children during the pandemic, as well as reach out to the culture sector to bring events to people’s living rooms.

“PBS saw an increase in audience, and you saw a fantastic response. We need to build on this in the years ahead. Look at the last 12 months, when the public was scared and wanted information they turned to the organisations people described as dinosaurs,” Curran said.