[WATCH] PN files injunction to fight legal notice banning political billboards

A revised legal notice redefines ‘political advertisement’ to ensure that political billboards may only be allowed from the time when an election is announced

Court upholds prohibitory injunction against MEPA, Transport Malta

The Nationalist Party has filed a prohibitory injunction in a bid to overturn a legal notice banning political billboards.

Speaking at a press conference in Rabat, deputy leader for party affairs Beppe Fenech Adami, said that the injunction was a way for the PN to stand up to the government’s attempts to stifle their message from coming across.

The PN has cried foul over a revised legal notice that seeks the removal of the illegal billboards that have peppered the Maltese islands for the past decade.

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority’s enforcement unit has identified 187 such billboards.

However, the PN has slammed the legal notice as going against the right to freedom of expression after the term ‘Political Advertisement’ – in the legal notice – was redefined to ensure that political billboards may only be allowed from the time when an election is announced.

“The Labour Party has made extensive use of billboards throughout the Maltese islands for the past three years, and the legal notice is clearly a panicked reaction to the allegations being made against the government over the past weeks,” Fenech Adami said, referring to the Panama scandal.

Fenech Adami added that under the new legal notice, if the party were to keep its current 20 billboards, it would need to pay a license fee of over €30,000 a year. The notice stipulates that parties wishing to put up billboards outside the three month time span ahead of elections or referenda, would have to pay a licence of €1,500 per billboard, just like commercial billboards.

“The legal notice effectively muzzles the opposition and it removes the level playing field,” Fenech Adami said, adding that the fees make it difficult for political parties to afford putting up billboards and putting their message across.

Fenech Adami explained that the notice was presented earlier today by administrative council president Karol Aquilina and shadow Justice minister Jason Azzopardi.

Aquilina added that the court has temporarily upheld the PN’s request, and that the party would be pursuing a Constitutional court case to ensure that the party’s right of expression is properly safeguarded.