The Malta Independent 17 August 2022, Wednesday

TMID Editorial: The committee analysing Malta’s media landscape

Saturday, 15 January 2022, 11:17 Last update: about 8 months ago

The government this week announced an important step towards the fulfilment of one of the recommendations of the public inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, with the appointment of a committee of experts in the media sector.

The board was announced by the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday.

Its aim will be to analyse the journalism and media sector in Malta, underline the areas which require development, analyse legislative amendments concerning the media sector which the government has drawn up and make recommendations to the Prime Minister accordingly.

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The board will be chaired by Former Justice Michael Mallia, who also chaired the public inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s murder.

This particularly is a significant appointment.  Judge Mallia drew praise for his commitment to the inquiry and to carrying it out properly and to, as far as his remit allowed it, leave no stone unturned.

In pursuit of this he even went against the views and direction of the Prime Minister and of those Labour exponents who criticised the inquiry as being nothing short of a political exercise and who wanted it to end by the deadline established in the terms of reference.

Mallia ignored that pressure and ensured that the inquiry was completed in as much time as was needed and having heard as much evidence as needed.

His commitment to the cause of justice and to essentially doing things right is undebatable, so it fills us with courage that he is the person who has been entrusted with leading this committee.

There has been criticism on some of the appointments on the board, namely on the appointment of Saviour Balzan, Prof. Carmen Sammut, and – to a lesser extent – Prof. Saviour Formosa, but with the presence of Mallia as the committee’s chairperson and the presence of other representatives from independent newsrooms, including this one, we are sure that the committee’s work can be kept on the straight and narrow if any attempt at veering off is made.

The board will have an important piece of work to do: analysing the current media landscape and also providing feedback on several legal amendments which the government has put to them.

There has been criticism that the committee is simply a rubber-stamping exercise for the government.  However, it should be noted that the committee’s recommendations and feedback must be made public within 10 days of their completion.

Whether they are taken up or not is up to the Prime Minister, which is where a sense of political responsibility comes into play.

This is an important opportunity to finally start to change Malta’s media landscape for the better – the government needs to be responsible enough to listen to the recommendations made when they are made, rather than press ahead with its own legislative amendments as proposed.

 

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