The Malta Independent 4 December 2021, Saturday

TMID Editorial - TVM ‘News’: Scraping the bottom

Friday, 12 November 2021, 12:21 Last update: about 21 days ago

You know you have reached the absolute pits when the Labour Party media reports on a government scandal in a fairer way than you do.

We are referring to the decision this week by the Standards Committee to adopt a report by Standards Commissioner George Hyzler, which found Rosianne Cutajar to be in breach of ethics over her brokerage role in a controversial property deal.

Cutajar is still under investigation by the tax commissioner over a €45,000 fee she allegedly pocketed from the Mdina property seller. At the same time, the Speaker confirmed to the committee members that Cutajar had failed to declare a €9,000 ‘gift’ from the would-be buyer – Yorgen Fenech – in her annual declaration of assets.

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In a rare occurrence, the two government MPs sitting on the committee – Edward Zammit Lewis and Glenn Bedingfield – voted to adopt the report. The decision was unanimous.

One News ran a concise but fair news item reporting what had happened during the meeting. It stated the facts. It said that the committee adopted Hyzler’s report, and hence its conclusions, and this “after Cutajar acted as a broker and admitted to having received a €9,000 gift.”

TVM, on the other hand, did not report this development with the prominence it deserved but rather tried to hide the news behind a statement issued by the Nationalist Party.

It reported the matter as if it was only the PN saying it. “The PN said the committee adopted the Hyzler report on Rosianne Cutajar. The PN said she should resign.”

Nowhere did it state this as fact. Nowhere did it say that even the government MPs and the Speaker had voted to adopt the report.

Back in July, TVM had reported how the Speaker voted against adopting the Hyzler report (pending an investigation by the tax commissioner), but this time it did not deem it fit to report that the same Speaker has now endorsed the report.

In fact, the Speaker was not even mentioned once in TVM’s 157-word online report. Neither were Zammit Lewis and Bedingfield.

Also of note was the fact that the report did not feature in the headlines of the 8pm TV bulletin (the cancellation of the Cospicua feast was deemed to be more important than Rosianne Cutajar).

The TV report, which was actually shorter than the online version, was aired around 14 minutes into the bulletin.

PBS has long been in the line of fire over its lack of impartiality when it comes to political news. It is known to give great prominence to government propaganda, to do its best to minimise damage for Castille, and to underreport the Opposition.

But it has now reached new lows. Things are pretty bad when One News does a better job than you at reporting on a government scandal.

It is clear that the PBS newsroom has degenerated further under the current editor.

TVM news needs to be led by an impartial journalist, not by people who allow themselves to be used as puppets on a string by Castille. This is a matter of self-respect, or lack thereof.

Any TVM editor who is forced to run a government propaganda machine should do the right thing and resign.

But because not everyone will do that, the national station should reform the way in which it appoints it editors. The people at the helm of the station should be appointed through a public and transparent call, and should enjoy respect across the board. 

The way in which PBS is being run, and the content passed on as ‘current affairs’ at the national broadcaster are an insult to our intelligence.

 

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