Updated | 'No news value' in finance minister's citizenship gaffe, PBS declares

In reply to Opposition's complaint, PBS says there was no news value in finance minister's comments on controversial citizenship scheme.

Edward Scicluna
Edward Scicluna

Finance minister Edward Scicluna's comments which betrayed the haste with which Malta created a 'golden passport' scheme to sell passports for €650,000 to rich exiles did not deserve to be reported, PBS has said.

The public broadcaster insisted that it was "consistent with its editorial line" of only reporting political message which have news value.

Following Scicluna's intervention in the European Parliament on Thursday, the PN had filed a complaint with the Public Broadcasting Services, saying that it had neither reported Scicluna's comments in the EP, nor the PN's statement on his speech.

In its reply to the Opposition, PBS said "its not our policy to be selective in our reports." It added that it would have been guilty of biased reporting had it been selective and reported Scicluna's comments "out of context."

In reaction, the PN said that it will be asking the Broadcasting Authority to intervene to remedy the situation.

In its statement, the opposition said that PBS news editor Reno Bugeja was "very selective in it's reporting." It added that instead of reporting news in the people's best interest "PBS is only interested in covering the government's back."

The PN also pointed out that while PBS insisted that there was no news value in Scicluna's comments. These were extensively reported in the independent media.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat admitted that the government could have handled the citizenship programme better but insisted that the scheme, would attract major talent to Malta.

Addressing a financial and economic affairs committee meeting in the European Parliament, Scicluna may have given too much of a frank 'apology' when he said that Malta had rushed on the IIP (Individual Investors Programme).

"What happened was that... the team that got into the project of how to attract investors... ran very fast, beyond the project to have an investment bank. If I was an MEP here I would say, 'for goodness' sake, I wouldn't expect that from Malta'... it was very unfortunate and its being corrected," Scicluna said of the much-criticized IIP.

Government insides who spoke to MaltaToday recognised that Scicluna had "given the Opposition a new soundbite to capitalise upon", and that they were bracing themselves for more.

The opposition had claimed that "Scicluna's admission in the EP had no news value for the PBS, while other news outlets reported these comments and gave them prominence. Once again, the PBS newsroom is censoring whatever could embarrass the Labour government... this was another case of media imbalance by PBS to which the PN is demanding an effective remedy."

Meanwhile, home affairs minister Manuel Mallia today said that PBS "has the duty to be independent and broadcast for all. This is what respecting the people's intelligence requires."

Speaking during a visit to the PBS Creativity Hub, Mallia stressed that changes in infrastructure, policies and the preparation for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest for next year meant that the national broadcaster had "exiting times" ahead of it.

you are more than welcome to cry crocodile tears! maybe people should realize how the PN distorted facts before commenting! check edward scicluna's facebook page!
"Manuel Mallia today said that PBS has the duty to be independent and broadcast for all." PBS is not independent; it is castrated.
PBS is slowly, but surely, descending to the levels of Pravda in the good old days of the USSR with this kind of ludicrous statement. Keep it up PBS!