Nationalist Party, Repubblika target PBS for stifling journalism following TV presenter's resignation

Freedom of the press has dominated public discussion after the inquiry report into Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder was published

The Nationalist Party (PN) hit out at the Prime Minister for stifling journalism days after apologising on behalf of the State with respect to the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

In a statement on Sunday, the PN accused government of wanting to eliminate all forms of discussion on the stations owned by the Public Broadcasting Services (PBS).

"Instead of firing Carmelo Abela as the minister responsible for PBS, who faces accusations of links to organized crime, [Robert] Abela did his best to get rid of a credible journalist: Mark Laurence Zammit."

Earlier on Sunday, journalist and TV presenter Mark Laurence Zammit announced that he will no longer be presenting the current affairs discussion programme L-Erbgħa Fost il-Ġimgħa due to excess interference from PBS.

The Nationalist Party added that PBS recently chose to move all news and current affairs programmes away from TVM, and will set up a new station called TVM News+ that will replace the existing TVM2.

"This exercise will surely be a new means of propaganda for the government that fears free journalism," the party statement reads.

The PN in fact cried foul over the setting up of this new station, arguing against having news programmes being taken off TVM during an election year.

"PBS is trying to convince people that it was Mark Laurence Zammit who did not follow the station's rules, but the truth is that PBS is the one who is failing to do this, by among other things refusing to follow the Broadcasting Authority's directives."

Meanwhile, NGO Repubblika also hit out at the PBS follow Mark Laurence Zammit's resignation.

"It is scandalous that soon after the State and Cabinet were found responsible for the brutal murder of a journalist, we have a journalist that had to stop his television programme due to interference in his work from the national broadcaster," the NGO said.

Repubblika dubbed this interference as abusive, even more so given that it was coming from the national broadcaster. The NGO instead turned its guns on Carmelo Abela, the minister responsible for PBS.

"Minister Abela was unable to take responsibility for his actions when he was found guilty of misconduct by the Commissioner for Standards. Imagine how much moral strength he has to demand that national broadcasting do its job," Repubblika argued.

Repubblika  maintained that the Prime Minister has a duty to investigate this interference and discipline whoever is responsible.

"We cannot have our country continue to sink into these abuses while no one bears responsibility. If Prime Minister Robert Abela does nothing, it means Abela has taken responsibility for the abuse committed."