The Malta Independent 7 May 2021, Friday

Watch: ‘PBS was not perfect pre-2013, but it was in a better state’ – Bernard Grech

Jake Aquilina Wednesday, 3 February 2021, 14:47 Last update: about 4 months ago

‘Persons need to have integrity and liberty to perform their work as it should be’

Opposition and PN leader Bernard Grech said that the Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) was not perfect before 2013 –when the PN was in Government – but it was in a much better state than it is today.

The Malta Independent spoke to Grech about a complaint filed by the PN to the Broadcasting Authority (BA), where the party said the TVM interviewer “used silk gloves with Abela, iron fist with Grech”.

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PBS defended the journalist, saying that its reporters have a right to ask tough questions.

Asked for a reaction, Grech told this newsroom: “Our complaint is that in a democracy, public broadcasting is paid with public funds. The journalist is obliged to ask questions, and we are obliged to answer, but there needs to be balance and similar treatment between the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition”.

The Opposition Leader said that whatever the Broadcasting Authority decides, he will respect the decision.

“PBS had the right to pass on their own comments, there will now be the Broadcasting Authority which will take a look at the case and decide what the verdict is, and we will respect whatever will be decided,” he stated.

Asked what changes he proposes to introduce at PBS if elected to government, including whether PBS should employ more journalists coming from independent media, Grech said that in this country, it is not important who is chosen to work with PBS, but that whoever is works with integrity. “The persons who work with PBS should have the integrity and the liberty to do their work properly.”

PBS has been criticised of siding with the government during both PN and Labour administrations, and Grech acknowledged that this is not a new issue.

“PBS was not born in 2013, it existed before. Things were not perfect before, and I recognise this, but, for sure, it was a lot better than it is today,” he stressed.

Grech remarked that more auditing should be introduced in order to stifle partisan elements in PBS.

“The possibility that they become better already exists because they already were better. This means that we need to find ways as to how there are more auditing which check what is happening, as well as responsibility that one answers to this responsibility by doing his job well and if the journalist does not, there would be other people who can take the necessary steps.”

Asked by another newsroom about resignations handed in by PN committees, Grech said: “I don’t agree that the Nationalist party has the same problems that it had three months ago, actually, the party is working together, moving forward and working in the best interest of those people he wants to serve; the Maltese and Gozitan people.”

“Yesterday we had a parliamentary meeting, which was passionate not because of in-fighting but because there would be arguments of interest that we duiscuss, so that weveryone gives his own opinion.”

However, he said that he cannot ignore what is happening in certain cases where there are resignations in the PN’s committees, “but it doesn’t mean that there are mass resignations.”

“There were a number of people that were not agreeing that I should be the Leader of the PN, so evidently they still feel this way till today. However, they had the opportunity to participate and still have it, and I gave instructions to hold a meeting with them as I don’t want any person to resign from the party if they have an interest to help strengthen it,” he noted.


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