The PBS is not the government’s noticeboard – Reno Bugeja

Reno Bugeja
Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The public inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia continued on Wednesday afternoon.

The former Head of News of the Public Broadcasting Services, Reno Bugeja and a representative for the Ministry for Justice, Johann Galea gave their testimony..

15:45 That is it for today. Thank you for following.
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15:44 Auditor General Charles Deguara is expected to give his testimon.
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15:44 The next court sitting will be held on Friday at 9:30 am.
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15:43 Johann Galea's testimony ends here.
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15:41 He said that since they are in the public domain the necessary action by the competent authorities should investigate the allegations on corruption.
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15:40 Johann Galea said that he never checked these reports as it is not within his responsibility.
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15:35 Dr Comodini Cachia is asking questions to clarify what is actually in the public domain, referring to the reports.
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15:34 He also said that he cannot say whether the cases have been initiated by the commission or by individuals.
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15:33 He said that it is not within his competence to check how a case originated.
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15:32 There needs to be someone who files a complaint said the witness.
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15:32 "Who refers these cases to the anti-corruption commission?" asks the board.
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15:31 He also presented a list of the pending cases, also in the public domain, from 2011 to 2020.
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15:30 He will present these two lists to the public inquiry board.
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15:28 He prepared two lists; a list of the reports accessible online and a list by request which have also been tabled in parliament.
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15:27 The board asks about the reports by the commission against corruption.
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15:25 The permanent secretary within the Justice Ministry, Johann Galea is next to take the witness stand.
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15:25 Reno Bugeja's testimony ends here.
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15:20 Reno Bugeja said that the PBS newsroom reports everything but it does not have the resources to investigate a story as newsrooms of political parties have.
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15:17 Dr Jason Azzopardi is asking questions.
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15:16 "I was attacked by both sides and that meant that I was doing my job right," said Reno Bugeja who continued saying that we need a lot of media education.
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15:14 Reno Bugeja said that yes they were reported because definitely, they were newsworthy.
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15:13 Dr Comodini Cachia is asking about the protests organized by civil society, following the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
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15:08 Regarding the agenda on government trips they usually receive an agenda not the details to be discussed during the meetings, said Bugeja.
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15:06 "Did you share the footage on a voluntary basis? – Dr Comodini Cachia

"It is an adopted procedure by the PBS," said Bugeja.
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15:04 "Do you remember an invite to visit Siemens in Sweden?" Dr Comodini Cachia. The invite was from Electrogas.

"Yes, I remember. think it was Mario Micallef was the journalist who attended." – Bugeja.
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14:56 Reno Bugeja also mentions how in relation to the Acapulco allegations the TVM newsroom reported the news and that he also conducted a programme for which he also requested Daphne Caruana Galizia to participate in the programme. A request which Caruana Galizia declined, said Bugeja.
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14:54 "Did you lead by saying that the Daphne Project made another revelation rather than the conclusion of the investigation?" asks Dr Comodini Cachia

Bugeja asks if the conclusions are included in the article

Dr Comodini Cachia says that it is her who should ask the questions and not him.

Reno Bugeja says that the news was reported and updated accordingly.
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14:53 For the tvm portal, there was a junior manager responsible said Bugeja.
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14:50 Dr Comodini Cachia is explaining why the lead about the revelations on 17 Black had a different lead from the main point of the story by the Daphne Project.

Reno Bugeja said that there might be items published online and the news features which differ as usually those items are published around 8 pm which is a critical time for the newsroom as many end their shift and when the news bulletin needs to be aired.
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14:48 Dr Comodini Cachia "Did you report the allegations revealed by the Daphne Project? and what were the leads in the news feature?

"We always reported what the Daphne Project reported," said Reno Bugeja.
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14:48 "We were a notice board, but not that of the government," – Bugeja.
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14:47 "All allegations mentioned and revealed, we used to report it and even television programmes used to be aired on the issues", said Reno Bugeja.
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14:45 Dr Comodini Cachia asks how many Freedom of information requests did the PBS send.

Bugeja says that he does not really remember.
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14:44 "But did you do it with all of your guests?" – Madame Justice Lofaro.

"I used to do it with many, yes," said Reno Bugeja.

Dr Therese Commodini Cachia disagrees.
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14:43 Reno Bugeja said that he does not see any wrong in that e-mail.
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14:43 Bugeja said that Daphne Caruana Galizia had published a blog about the said programme and in her blog, she noted how he was tough with Muscat and that he did a good job.
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14:41 Madame Justice Lofaro reads from an email exchanged between Reno Bugeja and Joseph Muscat. The email was dated back to April 2008, in which Bugeja gives advice to Muscat after he interviewed him on Dissett.
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14:39 Bugeja: "No"

Madame Justice Lofaro: "Are you sure?"

Bugeja: " Yes"

Madame Justice Lofaro: "Not even during the time he was an MEP, in 2008?"

Bugeja: "2008 was quite a long time ago"
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14:38 Madame Justice Lofaro asks if he ever communicated with Joseph Muscat.
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14:37 Bugeja says yes. He had asked Farrugia for a PR regarding the Azerbaijan trip as the PBS missed the coverage due to the visa issues.
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14:36 Madame Justice Lofaro asks Bugeja if he ever communicated with Kurt Farrugia, At the time Farrugia was the communications co-ordinator at the Office of the Prime Minister.
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14:32 He admits that under his responsibility, the PBS newsroom experienced no interference from the government but had access to information.
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14:31 "Thr broadcasting survey shows that the PBS has always served his function to serve the interest of the public," said Bugeja.
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14:30 Bugeja said that usually a coverage by the Department of Information, DOI, is sent to all media houses and stated that sometimes the political parties do not always follow this practice.
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14:27 The board mentions a particular news feature on the life onboard the LNG tanker during Christmas and asks why did the PBS newsroom ask for information and contacts to the communications co-ordination within the Energy Ministry.

Reno Bugeja said it was a light feature and that usually, the communication co-ordinators are the easiest channel to get the information.
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14:24 The board asks about news items in which journalists report on major deals such as Vitals, Electrogas and others.

Bugeja says that the PBS newsroom covered the latest developments about the issues.

He also said that the PBS had various programmes during which the latest political controversies are discussed, mentioning, Dissett, Xtra and Xarabank amongst other programmes.
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14:22 Regarding the freedom of information act, Bugeja said that some journalists think that they can ask for any kind of information for example personal e-mail addresses.
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14:19 The board is asking about the Azerbaijan trip.

Bugeja said that for them to enter the country they needed a visa. He also said that on their trip they encountered some issues and together with the cameraperson they had to spend a night in Paris.

They were not present for the meetings, it was only a photo opportunity for the press, says Bugeja.
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14:18 He says that when the newsroom requests information they communicate through e-mails or calls with the communication co-ordinators in various Ministries.
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14:17 Bugeja says that the PBS newsroom is equal to any other newsroom.
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14:17 The board asks Bugeja about the difficulties that journalists face.
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14:17 He retired around 6 months ago.
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14:16 Reno Bugeja said that he has worked as a journalist for the past 44 years. He has always worked within the PBS newsroom.
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14:15 Reno Bugeja takes the witness stand.
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14:09 The board has just entered the courtroom.
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14:05 We are live from courtroom 20.
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14:04 Good afternoon and welcome to this live blog.
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