Updated | PBS says it had already decided to host both deputy leaders on Dissett

Broadcasting Authority says PBS should have never ‘placed itself above Authority’s decision’, orders Dissett to host programme between Simon Busuttil and Louis Grech on Saturday.

Refurbished PBS building, officially inaugurated as a 'creativity hub' on Friday 28 December.
Refurbished PBS building, officially inaugurated as a 'creativity hub' on Friday 28 December.

Updated at 4:50pm to add reaction by PBS

Reacting to the statement issued by the Broadcasting Authority, PBS said that its editorial board had "already decided" that both Louis Grech and Simon Busuttil should appear on Saturday's edition of Dissett.

"There was no need for the BA to issue its directive," PBS said in a statement. "The editorial board had already decided on Monday that a discussion between Simon Busuttil and Louis Grech should be held on Saturday."

PBS said the decision was taken after Labour's deputy leader Louis Grech had asked for the Xarabank edition of 11 January to be postponed to a later date because he couldn't attend for personal reasons.

"Still, we expected the BA to confirm with us what decision had been reached before it issued such a statement," the state broadcaster said.

It added that it took this "negative development" seriously and would be giving further details in the coming days.

PBS said that it had "genuinely" believed that the BA's original statement had been a recommendation and not a directive.

"PBS genuinely believed that the BA wanted to send a message to the political parties that it was PBS and not the parties who decided which subjects should be discussed and on which date should they be held," PBS said.


Current affairs programme Dissett must on Saturday air a programme in which  the Nationalist Party's deputy leader Simon Busuttil and Labour's deputy leader Louis Grech face off.

In a statement issued today, the Broadcasting Authority made it clear that this time it was not recommending but it was ordering PBS to adhere to this decision.

On Friday 28 December, the Nationalist Party accused PBS and Dissett of  "adhering" to the whims of the PL, because Busuttil had not been invited to a debate on Dissett with his newly-elected PL counterpart Louis Grech.

After filing a complaint with the authority, the BA recommended that the deputy leaders should appear on Dissett's edition of 5 January. However, PBS argued that since the BA had simply "recommended" and not issued a directive, it would be "evaluating the recommendation".

The state broadcaster added that a debate between Simon Busuttil and Louis Grech had already been scheduled on Where's Everybody? production Xarabank, to be aired on 11 January.

But today, the Broadcasting Authority lambasted PBS for its stand. "Instead of accepting our recommendation, PBS insisted upon deciding itself whether or not and when the programme should be held," board secretary Simon Manicolo said.

"The board feels that the recommendation should have been upheld and accepted by the state broadcaster. The board notes with disappointment that PBS chose to place itself above the Authority's decision. This is not acceptable and will not be tolerated, especially in such sensitive times when the election campaign is just a few days away."

Manicolo added that the BA was ordering PBS and Dissett to air the programme between the two deputy leaders next Saturday on TVM2. It also ordered PBS to read the BA's statement in full during this evening's news.

Xarabank should be restricted to non-political shows like touching snakes, Eurovision, reality, prostitution, and all that Jerry Spring-type bull. Peppi Azzopardi is not fit nor unbiased nor knowledgable enough to be a moderator for a political debate of this stature. He should concentrate on becoming the Jerry Springer of Malta, perhaps even improving on his face makeup. His partner in WE, the Bondi man, tries to give the impression of a political thinker, but he is nothing but a mediocre presenter who has failed to impress, except negatively by his funny clothing, braces and coloured spectacles.
PBS should carry the full speech of the PRESIDENT of malta,where he mentioned the poverty line and not edit them to their likeing!!!
Luke Camilleri
I watched PBS news of 16.00 and again at 18.00. PBS did not mention the BA ordering PBS. Who said that PBS have the most credibible news? Crediible my foot. I had to turn to one News to listen to this and will keep doing so throughout the electoral campain. The BA should not let Pbs through WE DICTATE the political agenda in an electoral campain. I have faith in Mr Tabone as BA' chairman. Keep it up. Nobody gives you your reputation.
Nahsebfil-heading ghandkom zbal "Where's Everybody" ried jigi mhux "Broadcasting Authority"
Ir-risposta ta' guzeppi tal-mosta ghall-haiku ta' franco debono il-ktieb tal-haiku gdid - "il-haiku skont Guzeppi tal-Mosta" http://guzeppitalmosta.blogspot.com/2013/01/il-haiku-skont-guzeppi-tal-mosta.html
As a taxpayer, I insist that all formal political debate rebroadcast via state financed media should be chaired by an independent chairman to be chosen by the participants to that debate. Any other station, even those church financed, may invite and grill any politician of their choice, and who would care to air his opinion thereon.
Is-soltu taghha Miriam Dalli gabet il-protest tal-PN u ma gabet xejn x'qal il-PL. Nassumi anke lili se thalli barra.
it seems that GONZIPN are more comfortable to have the debate on WE programes like Xarabank instead dissett. Because Peppi the coach can use a lot of gimmicks like getting a nice girl on stage to hand Gonzi some files. what an ameature presenter. I appeal to the BA that all political programmes should be monitored by the BA, especially watching all clips and that questions will be the same to both participants. Peppi should follow what they do in USA, and Italy, France, Uk.
stennew xi farsa ohra bhal ta dissett tal gimgha l-ohra. issa drajniehom dawn ic-cutati u gimmicks bejn il-pbs u l-broadcasting authority.