The Nationalist Party has called for the immediate withdrawal of a new “unconstitutional” PBS directive requiring producers of current affairs programmes to seek approval two weeks before they are aired.
Yesterday it was revealed that Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) CEO Mark Sammut had sent out a circular informing producers about a new requirement for them to inform PBS head of news Norma Saliba about the topics to be discussed and the guests invited on current affairs programmes.
The memo has been criticised by many, especially in light of the fact that current affairs programmes are by their nature difficult to schedule two weeks in advance.
In a statement this morning, the PN insisted that the new directive proved that which it had been saying for months now.
“The Nationalist Party is asking the Broadcasting Authority to intervene without delay for this breach of the law by the PBS administration, which is controlled by Robert Abela, to stop,” the party said.
It said it was asking the authority not to allow PBS to steamroll over producers, journalists and presenters since the directive was stifling the basic principles of democracy and the free press while preventing the country from discussing current affairs.
“In addition to highlighting the miserable state public broadcasting is in, the email sent out to producers give credibility to the imbalance against the Nationalist Opposition,” the PN said, accusing the Broadcasting Authority of doing nothing to stop this.
The PN said it would continue to insist that the directive be withdrawn since its only purpose was to ensure complete control over broadcasting by the Prime Minister.
It added that the present situation showed that the funneling of public funds to PBS was not justified.
Moreover, it said that the latest development also showed that PBS was ignoring the recommendations of the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, which called for more protections for journalism.
The PN said it had filed two complaints with the Broadcasting Authority in this regard.
Lovin Malta, through its Kaxxaturi campaign, has filed Constitutional proceedings about impartiality in broadcasting, in which is calling on the courts to declare Proviso 13 of the Broadcasting Act, which enables party stations to breach impartiality rules, unconstitutional.