Prime Minister extends term of media experts committee

The committee was given a one-year mandate to oversee media reforms

Prime Minister Robert Abela has granted a request from Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia to extend the term of the Committee of Experts on the Media Sector until June.

The committee, which was appointed last year and whose term expired on January 11, had been set up as recommended by the Public Inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, which Mallia also chaired.

One of the first tasks of the committee was to review and give feedback on legislation proposed by the government to enhance the protection of journalists and strengthen freedom of expression.

The feedback was formally delivered on 1 June, and just before parliament returned from its summer recess, Justice Minister Jonathan Attard published the bills, taking on board a substantial part of the feedback but leaving out significant aspects.

This was met with widespread calls for government to hold a public consultation before pushing the bills forward in parliament.

Abela later agreed to freeze media protection legislation tabled in parliament and wait for a public consultation process to take place after meeting with the Institute of Maltese Journalists.

The Prime Minister made the commitment not to move forward with the parliamentary process beyond the First Reading stage and asked the Experts Committee to open a consultation process on the proposed bills.

The committee is composed of Matthew Xuereb, assistant editor of the Times of Malta and President of the Institute for Maltese Journalists; Kurt Sansone, online editor of MaltaToday and IGM secretary-general; media expert Professor Carmen Sammut; former Malta Press Ethics Commission chair and lawyer Kevin Dingli; Mediatoday owner Saviour Balzan; Malta Independent editor-in-chief Neil Camilleri; and criminologist Professor Saviour Formosa.