The Malta Independent 30 March 2023, Thursday
View E-Paper

TMID Editorial: The PBS censorship goes on

Friday, 3 February 2023, 10:27 Last update: about 3 months ago

It has been an oft written about subject over the past couple of years, but this week has presented another two occasions of censorship and selective reporting by the Public Broadcasting Services.

On one part, the state broadcaster failed to originally report the publication of this year’s Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International, where Malta achieved its worst ever ranking.


The Transparency International report showed that Malta was rated as the 54th country in the ranking, on par with countries such as Saudi Arabia and with only four European Union countries achieving a worse rating.

While the news was reported with prominence by practically all media outlets, TVM – and of course, Labour media house ONE TV – were the exception.  Indeed, the state broadcaster did not carry the story in its news bulletins or on its website.

The lack of reporting had prompted a complaint – and rightly so – by the Nationalist Party through its spokesperson for public broadcasting Graham Bencini.

It was only then that TVM published a short three-paragraph article on its website simply stating that Malta is in 54th place in the ranking – providing no context or mention that Malta’s placing has declined and that it’s the worst ever ranking the country has ever had.

Neither did the report indicate the reasons as to why Malta is ranked that low – reasons which Transparency International explained in their report.

The second instance in the last week was the state broadcaster’s selective reporting of a speech by President George Vella.

In a new bulletin on 26 January, PBS reported the President’s speech commemorating the Holocaust – and reporting pretty much everything he had said apart from his statement on abortion. The President said during this engagement that "millions of unborn babies are being killed before they even have the possibility to see the light of day".

The omission prompted complaints by Malta’s pro-life lobby, as the debate over a controversial amendment to the Criminal Code – which critics argue will give a carte-blanche for abortions to happen in Malta – continues.

These two instances come as no surprise: it is now quite clear that TVM operates to be an extension of the Labour Party’s own media house – a Super Two, if ONE TV was still known as Super One, if you’d like.

What else can you say about a state broadcaster which censors news items or officials at will? That, for example, PBS censored the President really isn’t too much of a surprise considering that in April last year they went as far as censoring Pope Francis during his visit to Malta.

Lest we forget: In his address to Malta’s top authorities, Pope Francis spoke about the need to eradicate corruption. But this important message was not included in the reports that PBS prepared for its news bulletins and online services.

Other instances – some subtle, some quite in-your-face – of the state broadcaster, which lest we forget is supposed to be totally impartial and is meant to present an unbiased account of what is in the public interest to the people, acting as the government’s gatekeeper are easy to find.

It’s clear that reform inside the public broadcaster to ensure that it is actually politically independent and not merely an extended mouthpiece for the party in government is needed.

Will that happen though?  Probably not, because whichever party is in government only strives to benefit from having the national broadcaster in the palm of its hand.

Till then, it’s the public which will continue to lose out.



  • don't miss