[WATCH] State aid for PBS is cleared by Brussels

Xtra Sajf on TVM | Minister Carmelo Abela defends government's PBS reform while Opposition MP Joe Ellis calls the national broadcaster a government mouthpiece

Minister Carmelo Abela (left) and PN MP Joe Ellis (right)
Minister Carmelo Abela (left) and PN MP Joe Ellis (right)

A government injection of €30 million in PBS over the next six years has been cleared by the European Commission, Minister Carmelo Abela said.

In charge of public broadcasting, Abela defended the recent PBS reform when interviewed on TVM's Xtra Sajf.

The reform will see the TVM channel becoming the entertainment channel of PBS, while the other channel, currently known as TVM 2, will be transformed into a news, current affairs and sports channel - TVMnews+.

Abela explained there was a need for the two PBS channels to be treated with the same prominence and for both to have a clear identity. He added that this was part of a wider reform that aims to strengthen the company, both managerially and financially.

He insisted the station had editorial independence and operational decisions are totally out of government's reach.

However, PN MP Joe Ellis insisted that the reform lacked transparency. He said PBS has been hijacked by a Labour government that funds it well, so that it could provide propaganda in return.

Ellis said Mark Laurence Zammit’s decision to leave PBS was one example of editorial interference, adding that programmes like TVAM and the news bulletin acted as a government mouthpiece without offering the Opposition’s perspective.

Ellis said that politicians have to provide the framework for PBS and then leave its content to the editorial board.