Tista' taqra bil- Malti.
The Broadcasting Authority (BA) has engaged in state sponsored censorship with regard to forcing the public service broadcaster (PBS) to censor journalists’ questions.
The Institute of Maltese Journalists (IĠM) said this with reference to the press conference given today by the Deputy Prime Minister (PM) Chris Fearne and the Superintendent of Public Health Prof Charmaine Gauci.
In a decision taken on 16th June 2020, the BA had been asked for redress by the Nationalist Party (PN) when the Prime Minister replied to a series of questions by journalists with a partisan slew. This took place during a press conference related to information-giving on coronavirus. The informative presser was addressed by the PM Robert Abela, Fearne and Gauci.
In its decision, the BA said “the political element in this press conference was provoked by some questions from the journalists present….the political element took place in the questions session, with the said questions provoking a political response in the answer. The PM could not but answer…the Authority is aware that any imbalance was created because of the questions asked.”
The statement outlined that the BA therefore forced the PBS to censor the questions by journalists. With such a decision, PBS becomes a state broadcaster similar to what one finds in totalitarian regimes. “In no democratic state is this sort of censorship acceptable”, said IĠM.
The IĠM requests a meeting of rectification given that with its decision, the BA has silenced all journalists including those at PBS.
Censorship that is typical of dictatorial regimes – Repubblika
Rule of law NGO, Repubblika, has condemned the decision taken by the Broadcasting Authority not to allow journalists’ questions to be broadcast by the national station.
Describing the decision as ‘absurd’, the NGO said that this kind of censorship is typical of dictatorial regimes.
‘The Broadcasting Authority has created a situation where the politician can express totally unbalanced views, but the journalist has to keep their mouth shut on the national TV station,’ the statement reads.
The NGO reminded the Broadcasting Authority that its duty is to ensure balance and impartiality on all broadcasting media, according to the Constitution.
Repubblika concluded by saying that it expects the Broadcasting Authority to retract it immediately.
Decision goes against the public’s right for information
Partit Nazzjonalista leadership hopeful Bernard Grech has written to the Broadcasting Authority requesting the reversal of the decision to censor the press.
He noted that the Broadcasting Authority’s decision not to air questions go against the public’s right for information.