Labour, PBS at loggerheads over broadcaster's policy to choose party TV guests

Labour disapproves of new policy that political party representatives invited on TV programmes get chosen by the station.

Labour spokesman for media and social dialogue Gino Cauchi together with Labour deputy leader for party affairs Toni Abela.
Labour spokesman for media and social dialogue Gino Cauchi together with Labour deputy leader for party affairs Toni Abela.

The Public Broadcasting Services and the Labour Party are at loggerheads following a directive issued by PBS requesting all political party representatives participating in State TV current affairs programmes to be specifically chosen by the station itself.

PBS's new policy further states that if a political party representative is invited on a current affairs programme and does not turn up, the production house responsible for the programme will still go ahead without having the representative replaced by another.

Reacting to the national TV station's new directive, PL spokesman for media and social dialogue Gino Cauchi said the directive was absurd. "We will always be present in every politically related programme that is broadcast on State TV. We have a right and obligation to be present, especially with an election looming.

"Our party has its policy and it will not change it for anyone, especially for the current board administering PBS. PL would not change its stance on the matter."

"Someone at PBS thinks he can do whatever he deems fit. It's as if we cannot have an impartial state TV in this country. We are remaining calm on the issue so that those who proposed these changes are given a chance to change their course before it's too late."

Cauchi also accused PBS of broadcasting news bulletins that carried far too many items lauding government issues. "This is creating partiality, with the PN getting the most exposure."

PL deputy leader Toni Abela said that the PBS management had a great responsibility to make sure there was no impartiality and that the national broadcast should give viewers a real picture of what was going on while striking a balance in terms of coverages.

Abela expressed his lack of faith in PBS's board: "We feel that we cannot have our mind at rest with a board that is not placing political parties on a level playing field."

Abela queried why PBS had suddenly come out with such an absurd proposal only a few days before the new programme schedule kicked off.

In a reaction, PBS released a statement stating that it had written to the Broadcasting Authority after it felt that the Labour Party was imposing upon it who should participate in such programmes instead of leaving the station to decide who to invite, as is normal practice in every democratic country.

“Political parties were informed about the matter when PBS told them it should be the production house that invites political party representatives and not have the choice of participants imposed upon them by the respective political parties.”

PBS said it disagreed with a political party insisting and imposing on who to send as the face of the party on a political programme and in turn wrote to the Broadcasting Authority to inform the authority of the situation.

In such a political climate, PBS said that by remaining consistent this gave viewers the opportunity to hear out new voices from different political parties.

Meanwhile, in a statement the Nationalist Party claimed that Labourleader Joseph Muscat was censoring one of his own MPs and pushing his clique by sending his chosen ones to appear on TV programmes like Bondiplus.

“Muscat preferred to send Karmenu Vella instead of former PL shadow minister Charles Mangion on Bondi Plus,” the PN statement read.

The PN added that Muscat wanted to choose who to send as guests on current affairs programmes, adding that all this reflected Muscat’s way of thinking, that of censorship.


Anette B Cassar
Jien se nara min qed jirriklama dfuw dawn ik-programmi us se nibbojkottjhom. Ghamlu bhali.
Tajba din. Jghidlek lil min tighlab ir-referee. U halluna tridux. Jekk tal PN kuntenti affari taghhom, imma nahseb qatt ma smajt proposta stupida bhal din. Ara veru jittrataw lil kullhadd ta balalu.
One cannot fathom the reasoning held by Lou Bondi, but the PN's reaction is even shallower.
It is very clear that PBS wants to rule the roost, thereby giving advantage to its choosen allies. Now all Malta knows who these are. Isn't most of the media and the church (not God, mind you) enough. God bless the internet. This is anti democratic, should not be allowed to happen and the PL would be blamed if this were to forge ahead. It is time for public protests and vocal protestations. Where are the able bodied democrats?